Peaceful demonstrations and rallies are a common sight at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Early last February, hundreds of anti-abortion activists arrived at the Capitol building to advocate for bills outlawing the procedure. Six weeks later, demonstrators opposing turnpike expansion in Norman filled the halls of the Capitol to express their frustration to lawmakers.
You don’t need to be a lawmaker or state employee, possess a media credential or have another special connection to enter the Capitol building. The building is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
Each visitor must pass through a metal detector upon entering the building.
Dozens of national conservative commentators and figures, from Ben Shapiro to Donald Trump Jr., appeared to miss that context when commenting on Monday’s protest from transgender rights activists inside the Capitol.
Social media posts comparing the demonstration to the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol went viral, insinuating that mainstream media outlets treat conservative protestors unfairly.
Several reporters and lawmakers who were at the Capitol have debunked claims that transgender rights activists overtook the building. In a tweet posted Wednesday morning, Senate Majority Floor Leader Greg McCortney said he never felt unsafe and the group was not unusually loud or disruptive.
Daniel Seitz, communications director for the House Republican Caucus, posted a statement noting that there were no reported unlawful incidents and that any national narrative saying otherwise is false.
“The Oklahoma House of Representatives welcomes all who want to come to the people’s house to peacefully protest, regardless of subject matter,” the statement reads.
If you plan on going to the Capitol to speak with legislators, attend a hearing or advocate for an issue, touchscreen computers in the first-floor lobby area can help direct you. Free guest parking is available directly south of the Capitol building.
As always, I appreciate your feedback. What bills and issues are you tracking early on in this legislative session? Have a story idea or tip you want us to pursue? Let me know at email@example.com.
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The voter registration deadline for the March 7 special election to decide State Question 820 is tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 10. There may also be local propositions on your ballot. Also approaching is the Feb. 14 election date where several local races will be decided.
You can use the OK Voter Portal to check your registration status, confirm your polling place or request an absentee ballot.
What I’m Reading This Week
- AG Drummond Takes Rep. Terry O’Donnell Case from DA Vicki Behenna: The O’Donnells were indicted by an Oklahoma County grand jury in 2021, related to Terry O’Donnell’s actions as a legislator when he authored and supported bills to change a law that allowed Teresa O’Donnell to be named a state motor vehicle tag agent. [NonDoc]
- Senate Panel Advances Bill Requiring $750 Filing Fee for Initiative Petition: The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed bills that would add hurdles for initiative petition filers and increase pay for poll workers. [Tulsa World]
- What three taxes does Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt want to cut? Here’s what to know: With the state savings account flush with cash, Stitt wants to eliminate the state grocery tax, cut the personal income tax rate to 3.99% and reduce the state’s corporate income tax rate by 0.75%. [The Oklahoman]
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