Capitol Week In Review: Legislature Gavels Out After Passing Controversial Bills
OKLAHOMA CITY - The legislature gavels out after a marathon 15-month session that included a teacher walkout and the highest tax increase in the history of the state.
“Good Lord thank goodness it’s over,” Senator John Sparks (D) Senate Minority Leader said.
And that seems to be the sentiment at the Capitol as battle weary lawmakers head home after a marathon 15 months in session.
The week started off with a petition initiative to undo some of the hardest work the legislature did this session; reaching an agreement to raise taxes to fund teacher raises and education spending.
The group Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite filed paperwork to repeal the tax increase with the secretary of state’s office. But teachers heard about the petition through a News 9 alert and met Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite members at the door.
“We need audits. We need reform.” People in both groups shouted, “We need to do...Why do you not take care of the audits and the reform first?”
The legislature also passed some controversial bills this week. One, the constitutional carry bill, would allow anyone over 21 years old and without a felony to carry a handgun without a license.
“I think it’s not very much to ask that if a person is going to be carrying a weapon that they have some sort of training,” said Senator Ervin Yen (R) Oklahoma City.
The bill’s author, Senator Nathan Dahm (R) Broken Arrow, replied “The Second Amendment says that this is a right of the people to keep and bear arms and that should not be infringed so that restores that right for law abiding citizens.”
If the governor signs the bill it will go into effect November 1.
Lawmakers also passed a bill to continue funding adoption and fostering agencies that have moral or religious objections to certain lifestyles.
“To be clear that is the purpose of this bill. Is to restrict and discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation in their ability to adopt from certain agencies,” said Senator Michael Brooks (D) Oklahoma City.
Senator Greg Treat (R) Majority Floor Leader replied, “Make no mistake. This bill does not deny the right of a same sex couple to adopt children.”
Just because the legislature gaveled out this week, that doesn’t mean they’re done for the year. If voters pass a measure to legalize medical marijuana in June, the legislature may have to return to the capitol for another special session to discuss regulating it.