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OKLAHOMA (KNWA/KFTA) — The Oklahoma State Legislature has introduced over a hundred new bills.
These new bills are being introduced in both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and/or the Senate.
Here are five new bills being introduced that you should know.
This bill, if passed, will require all Oklahoma classrooms to display the Ten Commandments. Rep. Jim Olsen (R-Roland) filed this bill stating “The Ten Commandments is one of our nation’s founding documents. This won’t hurt anybody, whether you’re one of Christian denomination or another, or whether somebody might be Jewish or somebody might be neither of those.”
However, controversy has arisen over the bill. Many who disagree with requiring the Ten Commandments in classrooms believe that church and state should not mix, including Chaz Stevens. He told Nexstar’s KFOR “This is what we want on our school walls? Personally, I’m a math guy and I’d rather have algebra, you know, A squared plus B squared, equal C squared. I’d be a proponent for that but instead, I have to put up ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.'”
HB 3133 was filed by Rep. JJ Humphrey (R-Lane) and states that any person of Hispanic descent and a member of a criminal street gang or has been convicted of a gang-related offense be deemed to have committed an act of terrorism. “One of the biggest problems are the cartels, the Mexican cartels,” said Rep. Humphrey to KFOR. “It’s not just the Hispanic gangs that we have a problem with. We do have Chinese nationals. But right now, the big focus is on these two [Mexican] gangs that are mainly the ones being involved in trafficking and fentanyl, human trafficking and these other kinds of activities that we’re seeing related to the border.”
Some are calling out Rep. Humphrey’s wording of the bill, by only including people of Hispanic descent when he said people of Chinese descent are also responsible. Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Public Information Officer Mark Woodward said “But China is the world’s biggest exporter of fentanyl and fentanyl precursors. The Chinese are mass producing the precursors, and they ship them either directly into the U.S. where they’re purchased by the cartels.”
Rep. Humphrey claims he had no ill intention in his wording stating “I apologize for just using the word Hispanic, but I was not wrong. Again, these are Hispanic. Reality is they are Hispanic. There’s nothing to be ashamed with.”
This bill, introduced by Sen. Ally Seifried (R-Claremore), will create a pilot program for Oklahoma schools to create phone-free zones in an attempt to reduce issues with discipline, bullying and anxiety. Seifried said to KFOR, “We’re asking them to manage the classroom, to police the classroom, make sure students are following policy, and then they’re expected to also try to educate kids. So, giving students and teachers seven hours of focus and quiet time and an environment where there’s no disruption [will be] good.”
If the bill passes, grant-style funding for up to nine middle of high schools will be available to cover the costs of phone-free environments.
Much like the recent Act 612 that passed in Arkansas in August 2023, this new Oklahoma bill would require Oklahomans to submit their government-issued identification before accessing any content on a site considered “harmful to minors.”
Rep. Randy Randleman (R-Eufala) filed the bill and said to KFOR that having an age verification process to access pornographic sites isn’t any different than asking someone for an ID when purchasing alcohol.
Some have criticized the bill, saying that it attacks the free speech rights of adults who wish to view adult content on the internet. Due to having to submit your government-issued identification, some adult content websites are completely blocking their site from viewers. In Virginia, the Pornhub website states “While safety and compliance are at the forefront of our mission, giving your ID card every time you want to visit an adult platform is not the most effective solution for protecting our users, and in fact, will put children and your privacy at risk.”
Rep. Randleman has stated that this bill is not meant to attack adults, but that protecting children from adult content websites is his biggest priority.
HB 3013 would make it illegal to buy or advertise any abortion medication. This bill comes after the introduction of House Resolution 1046, which would codify in the state’s constitution that personhood begins at conception.
Rep. Jim Olsen (R-Roland) filed both of these pieces of legislation and said to KFOR “Personhood begins at conception. I’m thinking nearly everybody could agree with that.”
Some are pushing back against this legislation like Tamya Cox-Touré, the Chair for Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice and the Executive Director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, who says “These legislators, extreme ones are pushing these measures and are not consulting with health care providers to really, truly understand the impact of these types of laws.”
All of these bills are available to be heard when the legislative session starts on Feb. 5.