Bills to Pay Attention to in the Oklahoma State Legislature!

This election season has everyone on high alert for national politics and policies, but let’s not forget that the Oklahoma legislature is in session right now too! The Oklahoma legislature is now far enough along that no more bills can be heard in committee, and now, our voices matter even more. Each bill that is still alive has the possibility of seeing the House or Senate floor, and your Representative or Senator may have the opportunity to vote on them. This means that if there are pieces of legislation that you are passionate about or genuinely want to be passed or killed, now is the time to call your district’s legislators. I’ve compiled a list of a few bills that I believe may be of interest to us as college students, women, and constituents that you may want to keep your eye out for on the capitol floor.

  1. 1. SB 1728—The Unborn Person Wrongful Death Act

    This is yet another abortion bill active in the Oklahoma legislature, and so far, it has passed the Senate. The purpose of this bill is to allow the next of kin of an aborted fetus (meaning the parent or grandparent) to seek damages related to mental pain and anguish and pecuniary loss from the physician that performed the procedure. This could potentially be a problem for a multitude of reasons—both legal and moral. First, this could easily, and likely would, be a large deterrent for doctors to be willing to perform abortions which would then severely bar woman’s access to safe abortions. Additionally, it would be legally difficult to distinguish who has what right. Women who seek abortions are making a choice about their own body and asking a doctor to help them fulfill their autonomy. This bill allows individuals who are ultimately unaffected by the abortion of a fetus to benefit from the difficult choice these women make. In my opinion, for the similar reasons that women should not be required to receive permission from the fetus’s biological father or from parents, these individuals should not be involved in the process after the fact either.

    For more information on this bill, follow this link.

  2. 2. HB 3371—Bill to increase punishment for domestic abuse by strangulation

    House bill 3371 has passed unanimously in committee and on the House floor, so it is now advancing to the Senate. If this bill were to be enacted, it would change the sentencing for domestic violence perpetrators that strangle their significant other or family member from a maximum of three years to a maximum of ten years. Representative Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow, who authored this bill, stated that he found it necessary because the rate of strangulation in Tulsa, Oklahoma is increasing, and this is usually a sign that more severe violence will soon occur as tension in a relationship escalates.

    Now, this bill gives me complicated feelings for multiple reasons that I find necessary to briefly discuss and attach resources for interested parties. First, I would like to recognize the importance of ensuring the safety of survivors of domestic violence, and this is not an issue to take likely. However, I would also like to encourage people to look deeper and think critically about all affected parties with bills regarding incarceration. Often, bills that are aimed at the protection of women by increasing punishment or likelihood of punishment, disproportionately and unjustly affect people of color. This includes women of color who are often affected by police violence in police responses to noise complaints or calls regarding alleged domestic violence situations. I am by no means trying to tell you how you should feel regarding this bill, but I would like to attach some resources for understanding intersectionality and the effects of carceral feminism.

    Two well renowned academics and feminist leaders are extremely great resources. Angela Davis has given a wonderful speech regarding mainstream feminism, and she is a leading contributor on prison abolition and information on carceral feminism. Kimberlé Crenshaw gave a very informative Ted Talk on intersectionality

    To learn more about this bill, follow this link.

  3. 3. HB 1182—Revocation of the medical license for abortion procedure

    This is a reiteration of a bill introduced last session which passed both the House and the Senate, but it was vetoed by Mary Fallin due to constitutional concerns. This bill will revoke the medical license of any physician that performs an abortion that is not necessary to preserve the life or avoid severe bodily harm to the mother. If this bill were to pass the Senate, it is likely that Governor Stitt would sign it into law instead of vetoing it, so it is pertinent that you contact your Senator to voice your opposition to this bill and request that they vote it down on the Senate floor.

    For more information on this bill, follow this link.

  4. 4. SB 1264—Traffic stop quotas

    I don’t really have any potentially controversial opinions on this one! This bill would make it to where citation quotas and requirements for a specific amount of monetary acquisition from traffic citations are not allowed to be required or suggested. This bill has my seal of approval as we typically see that traffic violations disproportionately affect low income individuals as they are more likely to be targeted for traffic stops and they are typically less able to pay the fines from their citations. Failure to pay this fines can also lead to jailing these individuals which then causes another slew of problems for them and our system. Ending quotas would decrease these occurrences.

    To learn more about this bill, follow this link.  

  5. 5. SB 1877—Public buildings being required to have a lactation room

    This bill has officially passed the Committee on Health and Human Services, and it will now move on to the Senate floor. It would require that public buildings contain a lactation room for state employees to utilize to breast feed or express breast milk. Originally, this bill would have included that the employee must be allotted a paid break to do this, but the bill was amended in committee, and this stipulation was removed. Despite the amendment, this bill is a great step to help working mothers and potentially college students. Public universities have buildings that may fall under this requirement which would help lactating women who are students at OSU since there is still limited access on campus (even though OSU does have more accommodations than many other universities).

    For more information on this bill, follow this link.

Staying informed on Oklahoma politics is an important task that not many take the time to do. However, laws made on the state and local level affect us just as, if not more, directly than laws made at the national level. I urge you to remain conscious of the bills circulating the Oklahoma State Capitol while legislature is in session each year and to contact your representatives and senators about issues you are passionate about. You are their constituents, and they serve YOU!

To find who your legislators are and how to contact them, follow this link!