Oklahoma governor signs bills affecting campus free speech, National Guard tuition and more
As state lawmakers prepared a massive economic development proposal aimed at luring an unnamed company to Northeast Oklahoma, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a half dozen measures affecting educators and students.
The bills ranged in scope and impact, from a new free speech advisory board for colleges to a requirement that student ID cards include suicide prevention phone numbers.
The bills include:
- SB 1190 by Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, allows the State Board of Career and Technology Education to approve courses on hydrogen energy.
- HB 3543 by Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid, establishes the Oklahoma Free Speech Committee, which will answer to the State Regents for Higher Education and review and advise colleges on their free speech policies. The committee will also receive free speech violation complaints.
- SB 1307 by Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, requires school districts that issue student identification cards to students grades 7-12 and colleges to include the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
- SB 1659 by Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Tulsa, increases how often organizations - mostly private schools - that participate in the Equal Opportunity Scholarship program must submit an audit report. Currently, it’s four years, but it will now be every two years.
- SB 1416 and SB 1418 by Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, are companion bills that make all members of the Oklahoma National Guard eligible for in-state tuition and create a revolving fund to support fee costs for a member of the guard.
Hundreds of education bills were introduced this year, but the number remaining alive dwindles as lawmakers near the home stretch of the legislative session.