In the past week, Oklahoma’s Congress proposed bills, suggested engrosses on bills they feel need to be updated and created resolutions that state facts or opinions of the Legislature.
HCR1006: House Concurrent Resolution 1006 condemns pornography as a public health crisis and, if that’s not shocking enough, the resolution is pretty convincing. In fact, Republican Representative Travis Dunlap said something I’d expect to hear from my friends after a long day at my liberal arts college. The resolution argues that women and children are objectified in porn, that abuse is normalized and that sensationalism has led to worse treatment of women and children in pornography. These behaviors are internalized by people who watch porn during their formative years. The resolution also includes references to sex addiction and other problems arising at least partly because of increased pornographic influence in daily life. You don’t have to buy this entire argument to recognize that pornography is often highly problematic, and that a government that recognizes these problems is more likely to create better solutions in the future. The Resolution has not yet been voted on.
HB1005: The House continued to critically examine society this week as Representatives Scott Biggs and Mike Ritze and Senator AJ Griffin engrossed a bill that defines first and second degree rape. Under existing law, bodily harm must be done in order for rape by instrumentation to be considered first degree rape. Rape by instrumentation is the non-consensual penetration of the anus or vagina by something other than a penis. Obviously, physical harm can be difficult to prove or be proven harmful enough to warrant the harsher sentence attached to first degree rape. The updated law would not require proof of bodily harm and offer less leeway for people who rape by instrumentation.
SB228: This bill tightens the language surrounding what the Office of Juvenile affairs can and will do, particularly in regard to community centers, which would be certified by the office instead of created by it. The bill removes the hard deadline of moving delinquent children out of detainment facilities when they reach legal adulthood (18 years old), so long as the court notifies the facility of the decision at least five days before the child’s birthday. This move allows children to stay in the care of detainment facilities until they reach 19 if the court deems it necessary. The extra year of detainment occurs in cases where the child needs extra time to finish rehabilitation programs or other court-ordered activities. Republican Senator Ann Griffin and Republican Representative Mark Lawson sponsored the engross, which is approved in the Senate and awaits its fate in the House.
HR1008 & SR6: Tinker Air Force Base’s “Diamond Anniversary” came and went this week as it turned 75, and the House of Representatives and the Senate were duly congratulatory. Both chambers proposed resolutions, though the House’s resolution is slightly more detailed. The base, located in Oklahoma City, includes the Air Force Sustainment Center, and as much as that sounds like a recycling operation, it effectively means that it provides supplies for the Air Force and 65 other militaries around the world. The base is one of the larger job suppliers in the state and is overseen by Lieutenant General Lee K. Levy II, who was also recognized by the resolution for his work on the base.
HB1104: Currently, guns are only allowed in areas such as colleges with permission and licenses. Under this engross, elected officials could carry guns in courthouses, a place where guns are not permitted, so long as the officials are properly licensed and they are doing their job. They will not be allowed to bring handguns into individual courtrooms. This seems an odd distinction to make, but the updated bill would ease officials’ travel through the courthouse while still banning guns in the actual courtrooms, where emotions can run high and guns might pose an increased risk. The bill was passed in the House and is in a Senate committee at present.
HR1009: The House proposed National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. The resolution acknowledges the suffering of victims of crime in Oklahoma and sets a theme of “Strength, Resilience, and Justice.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reports of 16,506 violent crimes in Oklahoma in 2016. It is difficult to quickly pass legislation that will help to decrease violent crime rates, and in that spirit, acknowledgement of the problems within Oklahoma seems a decent start to standing with and supporting victims.