The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature, upcoming bills and the terms to know.

Legislative Digest

This bill authored by Democrat Jason Lowe would prevent life sentences without parole and mandatory minimum sentences of over 20 years to any individual under the age of 18 at the time of the corresponding criminal offense.

To condemn someone to a lifetime of imprisonment for an action committed before their brain was finished developing is a draconian practice. An enlightened society ought to give all offenders a chance at redemption, especially those who have the vast majority of their lives left to rehabilitate. If someone were truly incapable of integrating into society, especially if they were underaged, they belong in a care facility, not in a prison.

The bill also asks the court to consider many circumstances such as “family and community environment” and “trauma history.” These are central factors in understanding young people’s behavior and should absolutely be acknowledged when deciding on criminal sentences. If the goal of prison is truly rehabilitation, the justice system must consider what is causing people to commit crimes. If someone has a troubled life, perhaps injecting more chaos and disruption into it isn’t the best way to stabilize them.

This bill is a great step towards lowering our nation’s reliance on the prison system. It still leaves much work to be done, but the positive impact it could have on many young people makes it absolutely worth passing.

This short bill authored by Republican Jim Olsen would prevent any future Oklahoma environmental regulations on corporations from being “more stringent than any Environmental Protection Agency standards.”

The threat of climate change is absolutely the greatest danger our world faces in the next decade. Currently, America produces the second largest amount of carbon emissions in the world. Denying the necessity of further regulations and even outright eliminations of certain industries represents a rejection of reality and the destruction of the world as we know it.

The bill also seems a little optimistic about regulations being created; I see little possibility of regulations stricter than a Democratic administration being passed in Oklahoma regardless of this restriction. Republican states like Oklahoma are already essentially restricted only by the rules of the federal government. Further regulations are typically only passed on a more local level.

This is, in part, a “ban on fracking bans”, a category of environmental regulations that came under intense discussion throughout the 2020 election. Fracking has repeatedly been shown to increase the frequency of earthquakes. President Biden, however, has frequently stood in adamant opposition to ending the practice of fracking. The state of Oklahoma doesn’t have to worry about Biden ending this supposedly vital industry.

This bill shouldn’t be passed, but it’s hard to see it preventing much even if it were to pass.

Post Author: Justin Klopfer