Monday, Sept. 27, 2021
Capitol Watch

What Oklahoma Issues Are Being Studied at the Capitol This Week, And How You Can Get Involved

Lawmakers and corrections officials meet Tuesday, June 29, 2021, at the state Capitol to discuss the agency’s decision to close the William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply. It is one of several legislative meetings held in the interim period. (Keaton Ross/Oklahoma Watch)

By Trevor Brown | Capitol/Investigative Reporter

You don’t have to wait for the 2022 session (or the special redistricting session slated for November) to get involved in legislative issues.

The Legislature is in the middle of interim study season, where House and Senate committees take up issues proposed by individual lawmakers and approved by Republican leaders.

These meeting, usually stretching for a couple to a few hours, can be a mixed bag. Some help spur legislation that will be introduced and voted on next year; sometimes not much happens.

But for citizens looking to make their voice heard, these can be excellent times to learn about new issues and potentially connect with lawmakers.

As I’ve reported previously, Oklahoma, unlike many other states, does not require — and rarely offers — the public a chance to comment before bills reach a final vote.

This holds true for interim meetings as well. Since these meetings are outside the regular session, when the rapid and sometimes frantic pace of the days makes it hard to connect with lawmakers, there are more opportunities to get involved. And since potential bills have yet to be drafted, lawmakers could be more inclined to incorporate feedback from constituents into legislation.

To stay informed, be sure to check out upcoming meetings in the House and Senate. And here’s a look what’s on the schedule for this week (all locations are at the State Capitol):

Both the House and Senate livestream all their interim meeting. And if you miss a House interim meeting, you can always catch up since recording are put online after the meeting is over.

If you have listened to an interim meeting or are looking forward to an upcoming one, let me know what you think? Did you think it was a good opportunity to explore new topics? Or did you leave wanting more? I want to hear your thoughts so, email me at tbrown@oklahomawatch.org or find me on Twitter at @tbrownokc.

The Top Story

The execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. (File photo/The Oklahoma)

Rights of the Condemned: What Oklahoma Death Row Prisoners Can and Can’t Do In Their Final Hours

As Oklahoma prepares to carry out seven executions over a five-month stretch, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear oral arguments in a case that could expand civil rights for the condemned. 

Oklahoma Watch‘s Keaton Ross reports that corrections department policy on capital punishment dictates everything from how the drugs are administered to who the condemned can talk to in their final days and hours.  [Read More ...]

Tweet Watch

What I’m Reading This Week

  • More Oklahomans are reaching fully vaccinated status in ZIP codes that have been lagging most of the summer, according to the latest biweekly vaccination data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health. [Oklahoma Watch]
  • Seeking to unravel the mystery of the missing Oklahoma workers, The Frontier fact checked claims about the state’s unemployment rate and labor shortages using state and federal unemployment data, studies by economists and interviews with state officials. [The Frontier]
  • Oklahoma could see smaller shipments of monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID-19 now that the federal government has clamped down on distribution of the therapeutics in an effort to distribute them equitably. [The Oklahoman]
  • A bi-partisan study held Sept. 13 by Oklahoma’s House Public Safety Committee affirmed that law enforcement would benefit from enhanced participation by mental health professionals on crisis calls.  My colleague Whitney Bryen investigated this topic last fall in a collaboration with StateImpact Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman]
  • Until a high percentage of the population harbors immunity via natural infection or vaccination, a Saint Francis Health System pharmacist says COVID-19 will circulate broadly in the U.S. and have more opportunities to mutate into other variants. [Tulsa World]

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