House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, said he expects a “major criminal justice reform agreement” this legislative session that will include “some Democrat bills, some Republican bills, just good reform.”
Echols said Gov. Kevin Stitt wants “big, sweeping changes that move the needle,” and the result has been package deals like the government reform and medical marijuana bills already signed into law.
Echols acknowledged some strategic thinking went into the quick passage of the permitless carry legislation that became the first bill signed by Stitt.
While controversial, the measure settled the issue up front and sidelined numerous other gun bills that would have likely remained in play. At least 30 failed to make one of the two legislative deadlines this session.
“There was a certain amount of strategy knowing the governor would sign that bill,” Echols said. “We had a whole bunch of bills that sort of nibbled at the edge, so we decided ‘Let’s do it and get it over with.’ ”
Among those not advancing were measures that would have made obtaining firearms easier for felons, prevented employers from banning guns in their parking lots and indemnifying bar owners whose employees shoot someone.
Sorry we asked: After years of sending all sorts of state questions to the voters — and sometimes getting answers they didn’t necessarily expect or want — legislators have decided that might not be the route to go.
Thirty-seven of 38 joint resolutions — the common vehicle for presenting legislative referendums to the people — are already dead this session.
The only survivor, HJR 1017, by Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando, redirects future payments to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Fund to rural healthcare.
In addition, SB 195, by Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, began as a regular bill but was amended last week into a proposed constitutional amendment. It would essentially tie the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s hands on abortion cases. Many observers believe the measure will never make it to the ballot.
Trump approval: President Donald Trump’s net approval in Oklahoma slipped to +7 points in February, according to Morning Consult’s monthly tracking poll. That’s down from +10 in January and +33 when Trump took office two years ago.
Fifty-two percent of Oklahomans viewed Trump favorably in February, his lowest approval rating yet.
Bottom lines: Don’t expect much out of the Oklahoma Legislature this week. With most of the state’s schools on spring break, the House and Senate are expected to meet perfunctorily Monday and Tuesday and take the rest of the week off. ... Eight climate activists engaged U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe at his Tulsa office on Friday. Inhofe and his visitors talked for about a half hour without anyone changing their minds. ... Rylee Treloar of Depew High School is the winner of the Creek County Democratic Party’s Willene Wright Scholarship for 2019.
Gov. Kevin Stitt reappointed Jordan K. Russell to a six-year term on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.