After a five-year hiatus, Oklahoma is preparing to resume executions using a lethal drug cocktail. KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol's Shawn Ashley discuss that story, a school gun bill and more from the State Capitol.
Dick Pryor: This is Capitol Insider, your weekly look inside Oklahoma politics, policy and government. I'm Dick Pryor with eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley.
Shawn, week two of the legislative session is over. Guns in schools has come up again with a bill that would expand the list of those who could carry weapons in schools and on school grounds. What's the approach the authors are using to do that?
Shawn Ashley: Under existing law there are two categories of individuals who can carry guns on the school campuses, if the school district has a policy permitting it. Those are licensed armed security guards and reserve law enforcement officers. In this case, they would allow that to also include individuals with a handgun permit who have undergone local training in active shooter situations. And it was sort of that latter element that concerns some members of the legislature of the Senate, because it would not be standardized. It would be up to local law enforcement to set those standards and work with the school district in implementing them.
Dick Pryor: State Attorney General Mike Hunter has announced that the death penalty will be applied again in Oklahoma. This coming five years after the state carried out an execution using the wrong drug. How will executions be done now and when could they start?
Shawn Ashley: Once again, the state plans to use lethal injection, a three-drug cocktail in order to perform executions. There are two court cases pending related to this one at the federal level, one at the state level. So it's going to take approval from both the federal court and the state court for executions to begin again. There's at least a 150-day review process on the federal level before those executions can begin, and then the state courts would have to set those dates. So, it'll be much later in the year before it's even possible to set those dates if the court agrees the new protocols and procedures are going to meet their concerns.
Dick Pryor: Office of Juvenile Affairs, Executive Director and Secretary of Human Services and Early Childhood Initiatives Steve Buck unexpectedly announced his resignation after only a couple of years on the job. What's O.J.A. done under Buck's leadership?
Shawn Ashley: Well, I think probably one of the most important things that (he) has done is to begin to get the funding and to begin construction on a new facility and to come. So that would bring together its female and male populations into a secure facility. There is something that people had talked about for a number of years but really had been unable to accomplish. He's done a lot to actually refocus the agency in providing care for these children and poor, providing rehabilitation opportunities for these children. Something they stressed recently when they adopted their statewide plan for detention related to juveniles.
Dick Pryor: Why is Steve Buck resigning?
Shawn Ashley: Director Buck will be taking a job with Care Providers of Oklahoma, an association of care providers, and perhaps he won't be leaving the capitol. Perhaps we'll see him up there working on their behalf.
Dick Pryor: Norman State Senator Rob Standridge has a bill that would change the punishment for strangulation of an intimate partner or family or household member. Why does he say this is needed?
Shawn Ashley: Well, this is an interesting situation. If someone were involved in a fight on the street and strangled a person, the punishment would be greater than if they went home and strangled their intimate partner or another family member. There's that difference in state law. So what he's looking at doing is sort of equalizing those to making the treatment of someone at home equal to that of someone on the street.
Dick Pryor: Here's an interesting bill that actually got a hearing. A House committee has passed a bill prohibiting health care providers from using conversion therapy on minors. In opposition, Representative Randy Randleman of Eufaula, who is a doctor of psychology and a proponent of conversion therapy, argued the legislature should not be telling health professionals how to do their job.
Shawn Ashley: But that's something they do all the time.
Dick Pryor: So, is this debate over regulation or this type of therapy?
Shawn Ashley: It's a debate over both. Representative Randleman indicated that in his practice he has used conversion therapy, which focuses on reorienting an individual's sexual orientation, usually from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual.
Dick Pryor: Definitely a bill to watch. Thanks, Shawn.
Shawn Ashley: You're very welcome.
Dick Pryor: That's Capitol Insider. If you have questions, email us at news@KGOU.ORG or contact us on Twitter @KGOUnews. You can also find us online at KGOU.ORG or ECAPITOL.NET. Until next time, with Shawn Ashley, I’m Dick Pryor.