The picture of which bills are and aren’t likely to become law is becoming much clearer.
Last Thursday, April 13 was the deadline for lawmakers to advance non-appropriation bills out of opposing chamber committees. Several of the voting and election-related bills I’ve reported on in recent months passed either the House or Senate didn’t make it past the cutoff point, including:
- House Bill 1415 by Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont: Establishes a framework for Oklahoma officials to split state and federal elections.
- House Bill 1629 by Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa: Clarifies when someone convicted of a felony has their voting rights restored.
- Senate Bill 518 by Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville: Sets new requirements for voter-led initiative petitions, including implementing a $750 filing fee and raising the number of data points necessary to verify a signature.
It often isn’t immediately clear why some bills make progress and others stall. The House and Senate commonly have ideological differences, meaning a bill that passes one chamber with broad support may struggle to get a hearing in the other. Sometimes, there simply isn’t enough time to hear every bill.
In my latest story, I reported on the bills that cleared this deadline and what voting access and administration changes could take effect ahead of the 2024 presidential election cycle.
Sweeping changes aren’t likely to be implemented this year. Republican lawmakers have zeroed in mostly on incremental bills aimed at keeping ineligible voters off rolls and thwarting possible fraud.
While voting access advocates I spoke with are pleased that measures targeting voting access and the initiative petition process are dormant, they’re also frustrated that lawmakers aren’t doing more to encourage civic engagement. Just over 50% of registered voters cast a ballot in the November midterm election, a 6% decline from 2018.
In the coming weeks, expect more bills to reach the governor’s desk and attention to shift to the fiscal year 2024 budget. Have thoughts, comments or story ideas as we head towards the home stretch of the legislative session? Let me know at Kross@Oklahomawatch.org.
What I’m Reading This Week
- Opponents ‘Ecstatic’ as Turnpike Authority Pauses ACCESS Oklahoma Expansion Plan: Saying that ongoing litigation and a requested audit are preventing the agency from entering the bond market for financing, the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is pausing its massive $5 billion plan to expand turnpikes in and around the state’s largest metro areas. [NonDoc]
- Stitt Dissolves Statewide Council on Homelessness: One member said the council was in the process of updating the state’s five-year plan to address homelessness, which will likely not be finished now. A Stitt spokeswoman said the governor trusts local efforts and agencies like the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Use Services to continue the work to reduce homelessness. [The Frontier]
- Oklahoma Set to Allow Indigenous Students to Wear Tribal Regalia at Graduation: Senate Bill 429 would grant Native students the right to wear tribal regalia when participating in official graduation ceremonies held by public schools, charter schools, technology centers or colleges and universities.The measure, which has cleared the state Senate, next heads to the full House, where it is expected to pass easily. [CNHI Oklahoma]
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