It was busy last week at 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd.

Hundreds of new and returning candidates lined up on the ground floor of the State Capitol during during the state’s three-day filing period.

In my latest for Oklahoma Watch, I break down some statistics of who is running, where are the crowded races and who will get a pass due to the number of uncontested races this year. My colleagues and I also spent some time this week, talking to dozens of these candidates as they filed.

We asked them a simple, but at times illuminating, question: Why are you running? Check back at www.oklahomawatch.org Tuesday for a sampling of their responses.

Meanwhile, a few floors up, lawmakers had another eventful week as they worked to advance bills before another deadline.

Plenty proposals failed to make it through by Thursday, when House bill needed to pass out of Senate committees and Senate bills needed to pass out of House committees.

One bill I’ve been tracking that now appears dead for the year is House Joint Resolution 1002. The proposal would have required citizen-led groups to collect a set number of signatures from each of the state’s 77 counties. Experts and advocates warned that if the measure passed, it would essentially block all but the most well-funded groups from getting a question on the ballot.

Another proposal, House Joint Resolution 1059 has continued to advance. That proposal, which would require state questions that amend the state’s constitution to receive 55% of the vote instead of just over 50%, can next be heard by the full Senate.

The next big deadline is April 28, when bills need to pass off the floor in the opposite chamber from where it originated. And with the May 27 sine die adjournment deadline approaching, it’s just a matter of time until rumors start to swirl of whether lawmakers can wrap up their work early.

What do you think? What issues or bills are you watching as we enter the final stretches of the legislative session. Let me know by emailing me at tbrown@oklahomawatch.org or finding me on Twitter at @tbrownokc.

Tweet Watch

Some of the new or returning candidates made sure to get their campaign paperwork in quite early. Wednesday was by far the busiest day of the three-day filing period with some candidates lining up well before the sun came up.

What I’m Reading

  • The Oklahoma Health Care Authority says around 200,000 Oklahomans will maintain their health coverage for another 90 days, thanks to the Federal Health and Human Services’ latest extension of the COVID-19 public health emergency. [KFOR]
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law one of the nation’s most extreme abortion restrictions last week, making performing the health care procedure a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison unless done to save the life of the pregnant person. [Public Radio Tulsa]
  • Legislation its authors say would make more difficult the release of some law enforcement crime-scene images passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives and was sent to the Governor’s Office on Mondays. [Tulsa World]
  • An effort to analyze and eventually clear the long list of people on the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ waitlist for developmentally disabled services could come to fruition this legislative session, but it has also resulted in a data breach that exposed citizens’ personal information and created stress for an already vulnerable population. [NonDoc]
  • A number of House-originated tax-cut measures, including one that would temporarily cut the sales tax on groceries, are moving closer to potential passage in the Legislature’s other chamber. [Tulsa World]

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