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New laws to watch as recently-passed legislation goes into effect

Oklahoma State Capitol Building
Kyle Phillips
For Oklahoma Voice
Oklahoma State Capitol Building

As of July 1st, almost a hundred new laws are now on the books in Oklahoma. Quorum Call publisher Shawn Ashley discusses some that stand out.


Dick Pryor: This is Capitol Insider - taking you inside politics, policy, and government in Oklahoma. I'm Dick Pryor with Quorum Call publisher Shawn Ashley. Shawn, when the calendar turned to the new month on July 1st, 80 new bills went into effect. Some have a bigger impact than others. Let's look at a few of those that stand out. This year, lawmakers sought to address inappropriate communication between school personnel and students. What is the focus of House Bill 3958?

Shawn Ashley: Proponents of the bill noted that a common thread in cases where adults abuse young people is often electronic communication. This bill requires parents or guardians to be part of electronic communications between school personnel and students to help ensure nothing inappropriate is taking place. The bill also sets in place investigative requirements for schools and actions to take if school personnel are found to have violated the bill's requirements.

Dick Pryor: House Bill 4073 concerns school security requirements. What does it do?

Shawn Ashley: For years, schools have had the option of implementing school security alert and response systems. These are like panic button systems that use modern cell phone technology to alert school officials and law enforcement of dangerous situations on campus. The bill requires schools to implement the system, no longer leaving it simply as an option, and with funding provided in 2023 it helps give them money to do so.

Dick Pryor: Another bill that just went into effect, Senate Bill 1456, requires the Court of Civil Appeals to establish a division that will be the court of existing workers’ compensation claims. Why was this change enacted and where are new claims going to be heard?

Shawn Ashley: Well, I'm sort of going to answer this question backwards. New claims will be heard and have been heard since 2014 by the Workers’ Compensation Commission, an administrative system that was created to replace the Workers’ Compensation Court. The Worker’s Compensation Court is handling a slowly decreasing number of claims, those that were filed prior to 2014. And eventually it's going to work its way out of business. This bill, proponents said, will help streamline that process but also protect the rights of the claimants, who still have claims before the Worker's Compensation Court.

Dick Pryor: Senate Bill 941 increases hunting and fishing license fees in the state. Now, versions of that have been tried in other years but failed. Why were increases considered necessary this year?

Shawn Ashley: The Department of Wildlife Conservation, which issues hunting and fishing licenses, is a non-appropriated agency. It operates almost exclusively on revenue from the licenses it issues, but those fees had not been increased for a number of years. The Wildlife Conservation Commission had sought for several years to set the fees themselves, but the legislature rejected that proposal time and time again, including a bill by then-Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson, which did not even make its way out of committee. Senate Bill 1941 includes language that creates a review process for the fees every five years to help ensure that the prices of the licenses and the cost of wildlife regulation don't get out of balance.

Dick Pryor: Another new law changes a statute title in a way that may seem insignificant, but it could actually be meaningful. Explain.

Shawn Ashley: Yeah. It's interesting you're simply changing the name on a statute book. But Title 3 of the Oklahoma Statutes will become Aerospace, Aircraft and Aviation Infrastructure, changing from simply Aircraft and Airports. Proponents of this bill say it highlights the growth of aerospace within the Oklahoma economy, as well as what's become sort of a new way of looking at airports as aviation infrastructure in the state.

Dick Pryor: All right. Thank you, Shawn.

Shawn Ashley: You're very welcome.

Dick Pryor: And that's Capitol Insider. For more information, go to quorumcall.online. You can find audio and transcripts at kgou.org. And look for Capitol Insider where you get podcasts. Until next time, with Shaw Ashley, I'm Dick Pryor.

KGOU is a community-supported news organization and relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department.

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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