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Some controversial bills killed, others greenlighted in first month of Oklahoma's legislative session

Lawmakers at the Capitol, pictured above, reached another legislative deadline, killing some bills and passing others.
Kyle Phillips
Lawmakers at the Capitol, pictured above, reached another legislative deadline, killing some bills and passing others.

Several controversial bills didn’t make it through committees by Thursday’s deadline.

But presumed dead bills have a way of coming back to life through various legislative maneuvers.

Thursday was the deadline for Senate and House bills to advance from committees in the chamber of origin.

Sen. David Bullard’s Senate Bill 1858 seeking to place a Ten Commandments monument at the Capitol didn’t get a committee hearing. Bullard, R-Durant, filed the bill after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered a privately funded monument at the Capitol to be removed.

House Bill 2962, by Jim Olsen, R-Roland, did not advance. It would have required school classrooms to display the Ten Commandments.

Newly minted Sen. Dusty Deevers, R-Elgin, didn’t see any of his nine bills heard in committee.

  • Senate Bill 1976, which sought to crack down on images or films showing sexual activity, was assigned to the Judiciary Committee and didn’t get a hearing.
  • Senate Bill 1958 also didn’t get heard in the Judiciary Committee. The measure sought to eliminate no-fault divorce.
  • Senate Bill 1729, that sought to create the “Abolition of Abortion Act,” was also assigned to the Judiciary Committee and not heard. The bill would have classified abortion as a homicide and allowed for the mother of the unborn child to be prosecuted.

Oklahoma bans abortion except to save the life of the mother. State law doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest.

A number of other abortion bills are still alive.

House Bill 3216, by Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, would allow for civil lawsuits against those who help a woman get an abortion. It also creates new reporting requirements for physicians performing abortions. The measure passed out of the House Public Health Committee, despite concerns it could ban some forms of birth control.

Olsen was not successful in getting House Joint Resolution 1046 out of committee. Olsen wanted voters to enshrine into the state Constitution that personhood begins at conception.

Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, was successful in getting her judicial age limit bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 1672 would require appellate and district court judges to retire when they turn 75. The measure could give Gov. Kevin Stitt a chance to appoint two new justices to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, saw his bill making it more difficult for initiative petitions to get on the ballot pass out of the House Rules Committee. House Bill 1105 would require a $1,000 fee, extend the protest period and require petition circulators to file a criminal background check with the state.

Senate Bill 1866, that would prohibit the use of self-checkout machines to purchase alcohol, advanced from the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, said the measure was necessary to prevent a minor’s access to alcohol.

The bill that got the most attention during the first month of session eliminates the state’s 4.5% sales tax on groceries.

In a room packed with lawmakers and others holding signs that read “Goodbye Grocery Tax,” Stitt signed House Bill 1955.

The law takes effect in late August. It does not eliminate local grocery sales taxes, but has a July 1, 2025, moratorium to immediately prevent local hikes.

Lawmakers must end the session by 5 p.m. May 31.

Oklahoma Voice is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Oklahoma Voice maintains editorial independence.

Barbara Hoberock is a senior reporter with Oklahoma Voice. She began her career in journalism in 1989 after graduating from Oklahoma State University. She began with the Claremore Daily Progress and then started working in 1990 for the Tulsa World. She has covered the statehouse since 1994 and served as Tulsa World Capitol Bureau chief. She covers statewide elected officials, the legislature, agencies, state issues, appellate courts and elections.
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