Monday, February 18, 2019
View Oklahoma Women’s Coalition’s full 2019 Legislative Agenda.
A teacher pay raise proposal supported by Gov. Stitt was approved by the House Appropriations and Budget committee on Wednesday. HB 1780 by Speaker McCall increases the teacher minimum salary schedule by $1,200, which would place Oklahoma’s starting salary for a teacher at $37,801. Estimates for the $1,200 salary increase are just over $70 million. For more on this measure and additional education bills making their way through the legislature, click here.
A bill vetoed last year by Oklahoma’s Republican former governor that would allow adult residents to carry a gun without any training or a background check has easily passed a vote in the state House on its way to the desk of the new governor, who is expected to sign it into law.
House Bill 2597, dubbed “constitutional carry” by its supporters, was approved Wednesday on a 70-30 vote. Nearly identical bills to this one cleared the Oklahoma House and Senate last year, but then-Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed it over opposition from law enforcement and concerns about the elimination of training and background checks.
Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt and Senate Republican Leader Greg Treat both say they support the concept. The Oklahoma Women’s Coalition opposes this legislation due to the direct connection to gun access and domestic violence. For more information on our opposition, click here.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
OWC continues to track progress being made around potential Medicaid expansion legislation – the most viable at this point is Senate Bill 605 by Sen. Greg McCortney scheduled to be heard on Monday, February 18th in Senate Retirement & Insurance Committee. This legislation would direct the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to establish the Oklahoma Plan within the Insure Oklahoma program. This is not full Medicaid expansion, and OWC continues to track all options for expansion, including a campaign to bypass the legislature through a statewide ballot initiative.
House Bill 1018 by Rep. Marcus McEntire passed the House floor this week – this legislation would update curriculum and training on HIV/AIDS education and now makes its way to the Senate for committee approval. Rep. McEntire stated, “House Bill 1018 seeks to modernize HIV education while not increasing any burden to local school districts,” McEntire summarized. “We learn new things. This statute is over 32 years old and the curriculum is too.” The bill passed the house with a vote of 76-19.
“Nearly half of our children have experienced three or more adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs. These include exposure to violence, neglect and abuse, and carry a devastating legacy of negative outcomes in adulthood, including chronic health problems, high-risk behaviors, even early death.” Click here to read more from Oklahoma Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister, on the importance of integrating trauma-informed care into our education system.
ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION
OWC is tracking dozens of proposed reforms as they make their way through the legislative process. We anticipate our priority bill, House Bill 2523 by Rep. Tammy West (Failure to Protect Reform), to be heard in House Judiciary Committee during the week of February 25th, ahead of the committee hearing deadline on February 28th. Thank you to our friends at Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform for putting together this summary sheet on the need for failure to protect reform.
We’ll be working with our friend D’Marria Monday of Block Builderz next week to ensure a hearing for House Bill 2049 by Rep Merleyn Bell which would ensure access to hygiene products for incarcerated females. The bill is assigned to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety. Want to help? Give Rep. Ross Ford a call or shoot him an email – he’s chairman of the committee and the gatekeeper to whether or not the committee hears the bill. Access to needed pads and tampons should not be a political issue – this is a matter of basic human dignity.
We’ll be working with D’Marria to ensure a hearing for House Bill 2019 by Rep. Kelly Albright as well – this bill would authorize courts to permit pretrial release for mothers and those individuals with caretaker responsibilities. House Bill 2019 is assigned to House Judiciary chaired by Rep. Chris Kannady; drop him a line and let him know you support him hearing this important piece of legislation.
Below are the reform bills we’re following closely which passed out of either Public Safety or Judiciary Committee this week:
House Bill 1855 by Rep. Scott Fetgatter: would require community impact statements be prepared for future criminal justice legislation.
House Bill 2310 by Rep. Avery Frix: would make jury verdict and sentencing a two-part process, like most other states.
House Bill 2273 by Rep. Josh West: Would expand use of evidence-proven supervision and recidivism-reduction practices that are in line with national standards, including limiting the time a person spends behind bars for violating the rules of supervision. More here.
Senate Bill 287 by Sen. Bill Coleman: Would limit powerful sentence enhancements for people who have only been convicted of non-violent crimes.
Senate Bill 421 by Sen. Stephanie Bice: Would define possession with intent to distribute to end overcharging for drug possession.
Senate Bill 616 by Sen. Darcy Jech: Would expand use of evidence-proven supervision and recidivism-reduction practices that are in line with national standards, including limiting the time a person spends behind bars for violating the rules of supervision.
We are pleased to share that House Bill 1007 (‘Lauren’s Law’) by Rep. Jacob Rosecrants passed out of House Common Education Committee with unanimous approval. This legislation would require schools to require healthy relationship and consent education.
OWC has been working closely with Sen. Kay Floyd and Sen. James Leewright to confirm language for Senate Bill 645 and Senate Bill 649 (pay transparency). Sen. Leewright has sought to exclude small businesses from this proposed pay transparency legislation, and we are fighting for the voices of women represented in smaller businesses to ensure they have a viable pathway to advocate for themselves and a fair salary, regardless of the number of employees. We expect a hearing on these bills next Thursday, February 21st in Senate Business, Commerce, and Tourism Committee, and we will keep you posted as things progress. We’ll need your voice in the days to come!
Senate Bill 720 by Sen. James Leewright passed the Senate Business, Commerce & Tourism Committee and is being proposed as “repeal and replace” bill; repealing payday loans and replacing them with installment loans. OWC still sees this legislation as problematic, as adding a new product to the market will simply trap more struggling Oklahomans in more debt. New products that cost consumers more are not the solution that struggling Oklahoma families need.