Epic Text Books
Jan. 22, 2024
Democracy Watch

Lawmakers File Dozens of Election and Voting Bills

Norman resident Bruce Karns voted on State Question 820 regarding recreational marijuana on March 7, 2023. (Whitney Bryen/Epic Text Books)

By Keaton Ross | Democracy/Criminal Justice Reporter

Ready or not, it’s that time of the year again.

Lawmakers filed more than 2,000 bills and resolutions ahead of Jan. 18 filing deadline for the 2024 legislative session, which officially kicks off on Feb. 5. Thousands of carryover bills that didn’t make it past the finish line last session are also eligible to be considered.

These proposals face a Feb. 29 deadline to pass out of committee in their chamber of origin. Bills that fail to advance are effectively dead unless revived by legislative leadership.

Me and my colleagues spent part of last week combing through the thousands of filings. While there’s no guarantee a proposal will even be heard at a committee hearing, bill filing presents a good opportunity to see where lawmakers stand on a variety of issues.

My latest story delves into criminal justice related bills that are worth monitoring. With the 2024 presidential election less than 10 months out, I also took some time to evaluate bills that seek to change what ends up on the ballot and how, when and where you can vote. 

Here’s a sampling of election and voting-related bills that I’ll be tracking:

  • Senate Bill 1565 by Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City: Increases the signature collection period for voter-led ballot initiatives from 90 to 180 days. Among states that allow voters to put questions on the ballot, Oklahoma has one of the shortest signature collection windows in the nation.
  • House Bill 3156 by Eric Roberts, R-Oklahoma: Bans ranked choice vote in state and municipal elections. Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville is running a similar bill in the Senate.
  • Senate Bill 1659 by Jack Stewart, R-Yukon: Requires all Oklahoma voters to re-register to vote in 2025.
  • Senate Bill 1414 by George Burns, R-Pollard: Requires voters to present photo identification to vote. If adopted, the State Election Board would develop a voter identification card that includes a photo.
  • Senate Bill 1861 by David Bullard, R-Durant: Specifies that no more than 5% of signatures required for an initiative petition campaign should be from voters of a single county.
  • House Joint Resolution 1056 by Charles McCall, R-Atoka: Requires initiative petition organizers to collect a percentage of signatures in each of the state's five congressional districts. Would appear before voters if it passes the Legislature.

Have story ideas, tips or thoughts you’d like to share? Let me know at Kross@Oklahomawatch.org.

What I'm Reading This Week:

  • Bills Seek Changes to Oklahoma’s ‘Woke’ Investment Ban: One bill would require the State Treasurer’s office to seek an opinion from the state Attorney General if it disagrees with a state agency’s decision to continue to do business with a blacklisted company. [The Frontier]
  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt calls another special session on tax cuts: After previous failed attempts at pressuring lawmakers to make major tax cuts, Stitt issued an executive order asking both chambers to vote on a 0.25% personal income tax cut in a special session that will begin Jan. 29. But Stitt already faces resistance in the state Senate, where the chamber’s Republican leader called the special session a waste of taxpayer money. [Oklahoma Voice]
  • During Stroble Arguments, Oklahoma Supreme Court Hints at SCOTUS Appeal: The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments on the looming question of whether the state has authority to tax the income of citizens of the Five Tribes who live and work within their reservation boundaries. The case could eventually progress to the Supreme Court. [NonDoc]

The Top Story

Deborah Shropshire, executive director of the Department of Human Services, discusses the agency's budget request at a Senate hearing at the Oklahoma Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, in Oklahoma City. (Paul Monies/Epic Text Books)

State Employee Move To Telework Leads To New Corrections HQ 

More state employees working remotely has opened up office space in some state agency buildings, allowing agencies to share buildings or sublease. The Corrections Department recently moved its headquarters into an office building occupied by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. [Read More]

The Latest

Third grade teacher Bridget Hatch high fives a student during a reading lesson at Epic Charter Schools' Stonegate Virtual Learning Center in Oklahoma City on Feb. 28, 2023. (Whitney Bryen/Epic Text Books)

Teachers Received a Raise in 2023. A Proposal Would Provide Another in 2024.

Under Sen. Adam Pugh’s Senate Bill 1313, the starting minimum salary for teachers would rise to $41,101. Pugh is chairman of the Senate Education Committee. [Read More]

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