We have made it through the first deadline week of the 2022 legislative session!

Last Thursday was the cut-off date for bills to make it out of committee in their chamber of origin. We can now see how many of the thousands of bills introduced before the session are alive.

As part of Oklahoma Watch’s launch of our new democracy beat, I’ve been focusing on bills impacting our elections and voting rights.

It can be hard to keep track. So here’s a look at some of the election or voting-related bills I’m watching.

Voting Access/Administration

  • Senate Resolution 48 (Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City): Would create a state question asking voters to add a voter-ID requirement to the state constitution. Status: Passed Senate Rules Committee 13-0; eligible to be heard in the full Senate.
  • House Bill 3677 (Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy): Would set aside at least $1.1 million to verify driver license numbers or the last four digits of Social Security numbers on voter registration applications. Creates a felony charge for those who remove, obstruct the view or restrict movement of poll watchers. Status: Passed House Elections and Ethics Committee 6-2; eligible to be heard in the full House.
  • House Bill 3232 (Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont): States that for any federal law, regulation or other official action that “seeks to substantially modify or supersede” any state voter registration or election laws, those changes are only applicable to federal elections in the state. Status: Passed House Elections and Ethics Committee 5-2; eligible to be heard in the full House.
  • House Bill 3046 (Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore): Blocks any government or election official from soliciting, taking or otherwise accepting anything of value for purpose of conducting state or local elections. All elections must be conducted with public funds. Status: Passed House Elections and Ethics Committee 6-2; eligible to be heard in the full House.
  • Senate Bill 1637 (Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow): Requires the county election board to notify the attorney general in addition to the district attorney if more than 10 absentee ballots for an election are requested to be mailed to a single mailing address. Status: Passed Senate 42-6; eligible to be heard in a House committee.
  • House Bill 3321: (Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond): Requires all ballots used for an election must be paper with options for blind or visually impaired voters. The bill prohibits any devices or equipment used to count votes from connecting to the internet. Status: Passed House Rules Committee 5-2; eligible to be heard in the full House.

State Question Changes

(Each of these would go to a vote of the people if they pass the Legislature)

  • House Joint Resolution 1002 (Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill): Requires citizen-led groups to collect enough signatures of registered voters to equal 8% and 15% of votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election — depending on if it’s a statutory or constitutional change — in all 77 counties to get on the ballot. Status: Passed House Rules Committee 6-2; eligible to be heard in the full House.
  • House Joint Resolution 1039: (Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando): Requires citizen-led groups to collect enough signatures of registered voters to equal 8% and 15% of votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election — depending on if it’s a statutory or constitutional change — in all five congressional districts to get on the ballot. Status: Passed House Rules Committee 5-3; now eligible to be heard in the full House.
  • House Joint Resolution 1059 (Rep. Carl Newton, R-Waynok): Requires at least 55% of the vote for state questions amending the constitution to pass. Status: Passed House Rules Committee 6-2; eligible to be heard in the full House.
  • House Joint Resolution 1004 ( Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee): Requires at least two-thirds of the vote for state questions amending the constitution to pass. Status: Passed House Rules Committee 6-2; eligible to be heard in the full House.
  • House Joint Resolution 1038 (Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid): Requires all state questions that have a financial impact on the state to reach at least 60% of the vote to pass. Status: Passed House Rules Committee 5-2; eligible to be heard in the full House.

What do you think about these proposals? I plan to continue tracking these bills and I would love to hear your thoughts on them. As always, you can email me at tbrown@oklahomawatch.org or find me on Twitter at @tbrownokc.

But Oklahoma Watch’s Rebecca Najera reports that thousands of Oklahomans are still being evicted. [Read more …]

Tweet Watch

Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City, took to twitter last week to complain about how Oklahoma lawmakers sometimes get only a few hours — or even minutes — to review critical bills, often dealing with millions of taxpayer dollars, before committee votes.

This is not an isolated incident.

I’ve written a few pieces on how much of Oklahoma’s budget process is clouded by secrecy, especially the budget-bill that sometimes is released on the final days of the session. We are seeing this months before the session comes to a close.

What I’m Reading This Week

  • Recent immigration data shows Hispanic immigrants may now have less cause for concern. Fewer people are being flagged for immigration detention. [Oklahoma Watch]
  • A bill that would temporarily remove the state’s grocery tax passed with bipartisan support out of an Oklahoma House committee Thursday. [KOCO]
  • An Oklahoma House panel passed a bill Thursday to prevent transgender girls from playing on female sports teams at Oklahoma schools. [The Associated Press]
  • Despite bipartisan support, some worry about the long-term impact of cutting taxes on groceries. There are no plans to replace an estimated $300 million in annual tax revenue. [The Frontier]
  • Two bills that seek to crack down on employee vaccine mandates cleared a Senate panel on Thursday. [Tulsa World]

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