Oklahoma Lawmakers Kick Off Special Session


Monday, November 15th 2021, 7:46 pm
By: Storme Jones


OKLAHOMA CITY -

Oklahoma lawmakers are back this week for a special legislative session to draw election lines.

By the end of this week, lines for 101 state house districts, 48 state senate districts and five congressional districts will be passed into law. The maps are drawn, and Republicans have the votes to push ahead, but Democrats are saying not so fast.

“The congressional districts are going to be a problem,” Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd said.

“This is a textbook case of gerrymandering,” Rep. Rep. José Cruz, D -South OKC, said.

Democrats launching a war of words against the proposed congressional maps at a Monday afternoon press conference. They argue the map proposed by Republicans dilutes the Hispanic and Latino community on the south side of the metro, placing them in the same congressional district as the panhandle.

“This map is very much based off of public feedback,” Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, said. “That was our number one priority is, ‘Let’s act in public what they want what makes sense to them and then let’s actually do that.’”

Senate Democrats are offering up a map of their own that they said makes slight changes to the existing map. Floyd said their proposal will be heard in the Senate Redistricting Committee Tuesday morning.

“The Democrats are really taking a cue from a dark money group that is funded by sources we don’t know. My guess is probably not Oklahomans that came up with these ideas,” Martinez said, referring the group People Not Politicians.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, laughed the dark money allegation off.

“The dark money hasn’t made it to my mailbox yet, so I’ll be looking out for it, I guess,” Virgin said. “It’s just silly. I think they’re grasping for straws at this point.”

“We have followed all financial reporting laws to the letter and remain deeply appreciative of the support we’ve received from thousands of Oklahomans over the past two and a half years of working on this issue,” People Not Politicians executive director Andy Moore said.

With the Republican map likely to pass along party line votes, Democrats said they're keeping their options open to fight the election lines.

“We’re considering all the options at this point and that is certainly one of them taking this to court,” Virgin said.

If the Republican timeline stays on schedule, the maps should be headed to the governor’s desk on Friday.