For the first time since late May, Oklahoma lawmakers will gavel in for a legislative session as they seek to finish the state’s redistricting work.

Lawmakers have just two jobs to complete: Update the House and Senate legislative maps that Legislature gave preliminary approval to earlier this year and pass the congressional map that was unveiled for the first time earlier this month.

The most contentious of those tasks will be redrawing the congressional boundaries. As I reported earlier, the map that GOP leaders released could significantly change the state’s political dynamics for the next decade.

Specifically, the congressional redistricting proposal threatens to make Oklahoma’s 5th District, the only state district that has seen competitive races since 2012, a more difficult target for Democrats.

Currently, Republicans hold an advantage in the 5th District in a partisan lean score developed by Dave’s Redistricting App, a program the state partnered with to allow users to submit maps to the Legislature, with 52.4% of the district leaning Republican. The proposal unveiled last week would increase that lean score to 58%.

On the left is the current congressional map. The right image shows the proposed redistricting plan that lawmakers are expected to take up this week.  Guide: Blue (1st District); Green (2nd District); Purple (3rd District); Red (4th District); Yellow (5th District).

Lawmakers will also be making changes to the House and Senate legislative redistricting plans that passed passed with bipartisan support this May.

Lawmakers had to use population estimates at the time because of a delay from the U.S. Census Bureau in delivering the final data to states. Now that the final population figures are in, lawmakers will have to make some tweaks to the maps.

You can click here for new proposed House map and here for Senate map.

Democratic opposition to these plans have been much more muted compared to congressional proposal. And Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, who co-chairs the legislative redistricting committee, predicted earlier this month that the legislative plans will again win support from Republicans and Democrats.

But with Republicans holding supermajorities in both the House and Senate, they likely won’t need any Democratic help to pass any of the plans.

The special session should be relatively quick, too.

Lawmakers are expected to formally enter into special session Monday and use the day largely for procedural actions. On Tuesday, the redistricting proposals will head to committee with the Senate State and Federal Redistricting Committee scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. and the House’s redistricting committee will meet at 11 a.m.

That will set up possible floor vote as early as later Tuesday or Wednesday. Once the maps pass in either the House or Senate, they will move to the other chamber. Unless there are any hiccups, the work could all be finished by the end of the week.

We have several upcoming stories on redistricting coming out this week, including how the congressional maps impact the Hispanic community in southern Oklahoma City and how the moves could impact 2022 elections.

But what do you think? What story ideas or angles would like to see Oklahoma Watch explore in the coming days and weeks? Let me know your thoughts by emailing me at tbrown@oklahomawatch.org or finding me on Twitter at @tbrownokc.

Tweet Watch

The Legislature isn’t the only government body working through redistricting plans right now. While state lawmakers are responsible for redrawing the congressional and legislative district boundaries, local elected officials must draw their local maps for things like school board, city council wards and county districts.

That process is also playing out right now for many of Oklahoma’s cities and counties. As Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert mentioned in this tweet, Oklahoma County will be discussing its maps on Monday and Thursday of this week.

What I’m Reading This Week

  • Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson said Thursday that he was relieved of his duties as state adjutant general by Gov. Kevin Stitt. Asked to describe his relationship with Stitt, Thompson responded, “I wouldn’t.” [The Tulsa World]
  • Stitt on Wednesday directed the State Department of Health to stop issuing birth certificates listing a nonbinary option instead of designating a gender, despite a settlement agreement in a civil case in which the agency agreed to do so. [The Associated Press]
  • In a 5-1 decision from the Oklahoma Supreme Court filed Monday, justices reversed the $465 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in the state’s high-profile 2019 opioid trial. [NonDoc]
  • In Oklahoma’s oldest surviving all-Black town, local leaders have committed to a conversation about reparations that is intertwined with efforts to revitalize the municipality. [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey said Monday he is running for district attorney. Calvey, 55, is the fourth Republican to announce for the 2022 race to become Oklahoma County’s top prosecutor. He vowed, if elected, to drop “bogus” criminal cases against police officers involved in fatal incidents. That promise brought immediate and sharp rebukes. [The Oklahoman]

Support our newsroom

During times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, Oklahoma needs high-quality investigative journalism. That is our mission at Oklahoma Watch. We produce stories that hold government and public officials accountable and that make transparent what some prefer to keep secret. We depend on financial support from readers like you to sustain our coverage. Help us make a difference.


Support our publication

Every day we strive to produce journalism that matters — stories that strengthen accountability and transparency, provide value and resonate with readers like you.

This work is essential to a better-informed community and a healthy democracy. But it isn’t possible without your support.