On March 12, 2012, the Board of the Oklahoma Women’s Coalition voted unanimously to take a formal position on six bills in the state legislature this session, as well as support of two legislative issues. We are very excited about the influence we can have in passing these important bills and look forward to advocating in these areas as they impact women and girls in our state.
HB 2267 – Public Health and Safety (by Rep. Doug Cox) –This tobacco bill from last year would allow municipalities to enforce stricter tobacco usage laws than the State. (Update May 2012: The bill died this session due to intense opposition lobbying by the OK Restaurant Association and big tobacco.)
HB 2396 – Criminal Procedure (by Rep. Wade Rousselot) – This would extend the validity of a protective order from 3 years to 5 years. It authorizes a continuous protective order if the court finds certain conditions exist. (Update May 2012: The bill has been signed out of a joint conference committee, and now heads to the floors of the House and Senate to accept or reject amendments. If amendments are accepted by both bodies, then the measure heads to the governor for her signature. May 25 - The bill passed both the House and Senate. )
HB 2585 – Children (by Rep. Jeannie McDaniel) – This is the Aid to Children of Incarcerated Parents bill. It adds services for children of incarcerated parents to improve the quality of life for these children, including data, education, toolkits and research. (Update May 2012: The bill is dead for this session.)
HB 2698 – Schools (by Rep. William Fourkiller and Rep. Richard Lerblance) – This bill creates a Task Force to study the need for increased physical fitness for youth in the schools. Specifically the task force wants to better understand the link between improved academic performance and fitness. Recommendations would be put forward by June, 2013. (Update May 2012: The bill is dead for this session.)
HB 3052– Corrections (by Rep. Kris Steele, Speaker) – Referred to as the statewide public safety bill, this bill encompasses recommendations resulting from the Justice Reinvestment Initiative; it will reduce violent crime statewide, provides post-prison supervision to reduce recidivism, and will reduce the rate of increase in the number of individuals Oklahoma incarcerates. (Update May 2012: The bill has been signed into law by Governor Fallin.)
SB 1959– Revenue and Taxation (by Senator Clark Jolley and Senator Earl Sears) – This is the $92.5 million supplemental appropriations bill for the current fiscal year that includes $14.8 million to pay teachers (for this year) the $5,000 bonus which had been promised those who met National Board certification. (Update May 2012: The stipends for NBCT have been funded for the current fiscal year, but discussions continue on how to keep the payments viable in the future.)
The Coalition supports in principal the following two issues:
Texting while driving should be illegal for youth 18 and under. (Typically states have started with the youth and then extended upwards to adults. Although most of us feel this should apply to all Oklahomans, we acknowledged this was a start. The only 2012 bill proposing this concept is dead.)
Healthy Snacks and beverages should be available in schools. It was felt that, in its current form, what HB2699 is requiring would be difficult logistically for schools to enact but we support the bill in principal and will await its rewriting.
The Coalition is opposing the following bill:
SB 1059 – “Health Care Choice Act” authored by: Sen. Bill Brown-R, Broken Arrow and Rep. Lewis Moore-R, Arcadia (Update May 2012: The bill did not pass out of the conference committee and is dead for 2012.)
This bill would eliminate payment by out-of-state insurance companies for certain preventive tests and immunizations that are currently required by OK insurance companies, such as:
– coverage for mammograms, pelvic exams, prostate exams, children’s immunizations and other preventive exams currently.
If this bill is signed into law and your health insurance is provided by an out-of-state company, women will have to pay for their mammogram, annual wellness exam, PAP smear or, for men, regular prostate exam or, for children, annual immunizations.
In the Meantime….What Can You Do?
Reach out to your legislator, if you have not done so this session. Give your House member a call at 405/521-2711 – and your Senator can be reached at 405/524-0126. Introduce yourself. Let them know that you’re interested and support the issues noted above and that you would like their support, as well.
We will keep you posted on any developments related to these and any other legislative issues that may arise this session.