Political Bites

February 16, 2023

A glance at what Oklahoma legislators are working on at the State Capitol

Garvin focuses on variety of bills ranging from women’s rights to stronger control of medical marijuana

Sen. Jessica Garvin’s column this week highlights bills she’s set her focus on – from Senate Bill 368 (preventative birth control rights for women) to SB 439 – which would stop easy access minors currently have to marijuana but making sure that minors who truly need marijuana for diagnoses like seizures would have it.

Senate Bill 368 would codify a woman’s right to preventative birth control. She said it states that Oklahomans have the right to any medication or surgery, such as having one’s tubes tied or a vasectomy, oral contraception, or surgical insertion of intrauterine devices (IUDs), to prevent pregnancy. “I want to assure physicians they won’t be punished for providing prevention options and couples who aren’t ready for a child that they’ll have access to birth control.”

SB 437, 439 and 645 passed committee unanimously.

“I’ve dedicated a lot of time to understanding marijuana issues and have worked with the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) and industry leaders to put forward commonsense solutions to several major issues. SB 439 would stop the easy access minors currently have to marijuana, while ensuring minors who truly need medical marijuana for diagnoses, like seizures, will continue to have it.”

Be sure to read Garvin’s entire column on our Marlow Review website.

OPIOID CRISIS: OK AG Drummond pushes for drug cartels to be designated as foreign terrorist organizations

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond has joined a coalition of 21 states, led by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, urgently calling on President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) under federal law.

The designation would free up much-needed resources to confront the deadly opioid crisis, which has reached unparalleled heights under the current administration. Last year, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses — and synthetic opioids like fentanyl were responsible for more than half.

“This crisis must be addressed immediately,” Drummond said. “Designating Mexican drug cartels as Foreign Terrorist Organizations will allow us to fight this scourge with the serious approach that it desperately deserves. The United States government must take action immediately in order to help combat this deadly threat to families throughout the country.”

Between October 2021 and June 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized 8,425 pounds of fentanyl smuggled into the U.S. In addition to smuggling fentanyl into the country, cartels are assassinating rivals and government officials, ambushing and killing Americans at the border and engaging in an armed insurgency against the Mexican government.

In Oklahoma, the increasing number of fatal fentanyl overdoses during the past several years has been astonishing. From 54 deaths in 2019 to 299 deaths in 2021, Oklahoma saw a 454-percent increase in fentanyl overdoses resulting in fatalities. While data from 2022 is not yet complete, 220 deaths were recorded between Jan. 1 and June 30, meaning this crisis continues to spiral out of control.

Designating major cartels as FTOs will give state and federal law enforcement agencies increased authority to freeze cartel assets, deny entry to cartel members and allow prosecutors to pursue stricter punishments against those who provide them material support.

In addition to Oklahoma, Attorney General Miyares’ letter was joined by the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.

Boles tackles energy bills, participates in Rose Day

Rep. Brad Boles, D-51, Marlow, is chair of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In his first week, he worked with members whose bills were assigned to that committee.

“I meet with energy industry associations, the Secretary of Energy, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and other stakeholders to review each bill. Having these meetings in advance of hearing the bill in committee allows more time to work with the bill author on any issues that may arise later.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 10, the House recognized “Rose Day,” an annual tradition where pro-life advocates present lawmakers with red roses to symbolize the sanctity of life of our unborn children. “Rose Day is a reminder to all of us that the fight to save the unborn must not waiver. Hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol to participate, including many familiar faces from Stephens and Grady Counties. I am proud to live in Oklahoma where we value and protect life, including the unborn.”
A Bible verse came to mind on Wednesday as I visited with many pro-life advocates: Proverbs 31:8, which calls on us to "Speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute."

Be sure to read Boles entire column on our Marlow Review website.

HB 2077 calls for curriculum transparency state-based website

A curriculum transparency portal bill that would require the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to create a website allowing parents and others to review and comment on curriculum, textbooks, and library materials used at their local schools passed the House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee for Education on Monday. House Bill 2077 is authored by Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid.

Caldwell told committee members that currently if a parent has a question about a book or material being taught in their child's classroom, the school typically holds a one-on-one meeting with them to answer questions or allow for the review of material. The website created in his legislation would create one place where parents or other community members could see the material being taught by grade level in their local school, and would allow them to comment publicly on the material. It doesn’t dictate what the content should be, nor change policies.

"Schools will still have the freedom to choose what curriculum they select and what books they carry in the library. But that will now be more easily accessible to the public."

The bill specifies that the website created must include an easy-to-use interface for school district employees to upload content. It must also allow for public and private comment by users with real-time processing of comments, reviews, and feedback.

OPA Award Badge
OPA Award Badge
OPA Award Badge