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Bill filing continues as Inauguration Day nears

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Oklahoma legislators have a month to go before the bill filing deadline, and already some are generating discussion and headlines.


Dick Pryor: This is Capitol Insider - taking you inside politics, policy and government in Oklahoma as we head toward the end of the year. I'm Dick Pryor with Quorum Call publisher Shawn Ashley. Shawn, bill filing is continuing at the capitol with the deadline January 19th. Where does that stand now?

Shawn Ashley: Well, December 9th was the deadline for lawmakers to tell staff what bills they might want to file for the 2023 session. Lawmakers submitted just over 3,770 bill requests. Now, typically, around 80% of those will be filed. Thus far, just over a dozen House measures have been filed and nearly four dozen Senate measures. So, there's a long way to go before January 19th.

Dick Pryor: What bills have jumped out at you so far on?

Shawn Ashley: You know, some bills filed early frequently grab a lot of headlines. And often that's because lawmakers try to make sure of that. Senator Nathan Dahm, for example, filed five bills and issued four press releases touting them. One that's flown under the radar, I think, is Senator Cody Rogers’ Senate Bill 30. Now, Rogers did announce in a December 9th press release his plan to file the bill, which he said ensures parents remain in control of conversations and actions regarding their children's gender identity and sexual orientation.

The bill has only one operative section that does about seven different things. It requires school districts to put in place procedures to notify parents of any changes or issues their student is having related to their mental, emotional or physical health or well-being. It also prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for kindergarten through sixth grade, and requires such instruction be provided in a manner that is age or developmentally appropriate in grades seven through twelve. It also would require students to be called by their first or middle names that appear on their birth certificates and prohibits school employees and volunteers from referring to a student with a pronoun other than that which corresponds to the student's biological sex without written consent from the student's parent or guardian.

Dick Pryor: So that bears watching, and there are a lot more coming. Shawn, Governor Kevin Stitt has signed an executive order prohibiting state employees and departments from accessing TikTok on state devices and networks. As a practical matter, how does that work?

Shawn Ashley: The Office of Management and Enterprise Services oversees the state's internet network and has blocked the site from being accessed on state networks. In addition to the networks used by state agencies and their staff, the ban also applies to publicly available networks in state government buildings. That means state staffers will not be able to access TikTok from their personal phones on those networks and members of the public who might be accessing those public state networks will not be able to access TikTok, as well.

Dick Pryor: Are there any other social media sites that are being blocked by the state as TikTok is?

Shawn Ashley: According to the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, there are not at this time.

Dick Pryor: Swearing-in ceremonies for the governor and other statewide elected officials as coming up on January 9th. There are also various inaugural activities, too. What preparations are going on behind the scenes in the three weeks leading up to the swearing in?

Shawn Ashley: The Oklahoma Inaugural Committee, led by First Lady Sarah Stitt, is putting together the plans for the inaugural events. Currently, three inaugural balls are planned: one in Tulsa, one in Enid, and one in Oklahoma City. A prayer service the day before the inauguration and the inauguration itself on January 9th at the Capitol.

Dick Pryor: Who does the work to make these events happen and who pays for inaugural activities? Is it the state, is it private or both?

Shawn Ashley: It's sort of a combination of public and private. Now, the Oklahoma Constitution only requires that statewide elected officials’, terms of office begin the second Monday of January next after their election, and it requires they take an oath of office. So, the big events, the inauguration itself and the balls are arranged by private staff and volunteers and paid for with private funds. But there are some state costs involved, of course, such as providing security at the inauguration event in particular.

Dick Pryor: Thank you, Shawn.

Shawn Ashley: You're very welcome.

Dick Pryor: And that's Capitol Insider. If you have questions, email them to new@kgou.org or contact us on Twitter @kgounews and @QuorumCallShawn. Until next time, with Shawn Ashley, I'm Dick Pryor.

Dick Pryor has more than 30 years of experience in public service media, having previously served as deputy director, managing editor, news manager, news anchor and host for OETA, Oklahoma’s statewide public TV network. He was named general manager of KGOU Radio in November 2016.
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