This week was the first full week of floor work for the Oklahoma legislature. While it is technically a three-week period from the start of floor work to the March 23rd deadline for bills to be passed off the floor of their origin, next week is expected to be a light week with only two days of legislative work. This week and the deadline week are the only full weeks for the House and Senate to consider bill measures.
The Senate moved several bills this week, while the house saw a bit of a slow down due to some internal disagreements between the Republican and Democrat caucuses.
Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur’s nomination by Governor Kevin Stitt to serve a second term was approved by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee on Monday. Her nomination confirmation will now move to the full Senate for approval. Executive nominations do not need confirmation by the House of Representatives.
There was much anticipation surrounding Oklahoma’s vote on State Question 820, which would have made the use of recreational marijuana legal in the state. There was concern for how the approval of such a measure would impact the legislature’s work for the remainder of the session as they worked to legislate and implement the change in the marijuana industry. However, Oklahomans overwhelmingly opposed state question ultimately defeating it with 61.68% of voters casting No votes.
While it was widely expected to be defeated in rural counties, the measure ended up being defeated by all 77 counties in the state including the urban counties expected to approve the question. Oklahoma Farm Bureau worked as a part of coalition of organizations and businesses to defeat the proposed measure.
This week SB 518 by Sen. Julie Daniels passed off the Senate floor. SB 518 makes modifications to Oklahoma’s initiative petition statutes. If enacted, it would require four data points matching a voter’s registration to be verified for those signing initiative petitions instead of the previously required three points. There are five listed data points that must be collected including legal first name, legal last name, zip code, house number, and birthdate.
Additionally, SB 518 would allow the Secretary of State to charge a filing fee of $750 from the group submitting the initiative petition to cover the cost of publication of notice. It also changes the time allowed for submitting appeals from 10 business days to 20 business days.
Legislation first introduced in the 2022 legislative session passed off the House floor this week. HB 1962 by Rep. Carl Newton would give kids who are under 17-years-old but not less than 14-years-old and who reside on or are employed by a farm the ability to apply for a special farm driver’s permit. The farm permit would allow them to operate a Class D motor vehicle when going to or from the farm or driving for farm-related work. It would also allow those individuals who reside on the farm to drive to school.
For an update on weekly happenings at the Capitol and an outlook on what is ahead, be sure to tune in to Oklahoma Farm Bureau’s Weekly Public Policy Update each Friday at noon. Please note, there will not be a legislative update next Friday, March 17, due to the spring break. Check back March 24 for an update on the happenings at the state Capitol.