Carl’s Capitol Comments: Bills

I’ve been handed 18 Senate bills to present in the House. Six of these I’ve given to two freshman members. This will lighten my load, but it also will help these members gain some experience in presenting bills in committee and navigating the process of getting measures heard and passed on the House floor.

I remember well what it was like to learn the ropes of the legislative process, so I’m happy to mentor a few of the House’s newest members.

On that note, I want to say how impressed I am with the great quality of the 15 new members we have in the House this year. They are high caliber. Many came in already familiar with much of the process, and all were very eager to learn.

Four of the Senate bills I’m keeping, are aimed at election regulations. The Senate authors and I are working with the State Election Board secretary on tightening up loose ends to make sure those people voting in our elections are eligible to do so.

Senate Bill 710 will help the secretary identify eligible but non-registered voters who have changed their address so he can notify them of the procedure for registering to vote or changing their registered address.

Senate Bill 712 allows the secretary to authorize the use of electronic precinct registries by county election boards and to purchase any equipment or software necessary to implement an electronic precinct registry system as funding is available.

Senate Bill 714 clarifies requirements for people voting by absentee ballot, including those who are in nursing homes or veterans’ centers and those who are incapacitated. During COVID, we learned some lessons about absentee ballots and found some areas where we needed to spell things out in greater detail in state statute.

Senate Bill 715 defines electioneering as advocating directly for or against a candidate or question that is on the ballot at the election, either verbally or with visual materials, signs or clothing, or collecting signatures for a petition to place an issue or question on a future ballot. The measure clarifies the distance at which electioneering at a polling place or near a ballot box is prohibited. It also specifies that voters registered and voting at a precinct are the only persons allowed in the polling place except for minors accompanying their parents or guardians.

On the topic of elections, the House this week adopted House Resolution 1009 in response to H.R.1 by the U.S. Congress. H.R.1 directs states to utilize third-party entities to manage state congressional redistricting efforts and weakens many voting regulations for federal elections. HR 1009 reasserts our state sovereignty and our authoritative powers as prescribed in the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and declares that H.R. 1 lies beyond the enumerated authorities delegated to the U.S. Congress by the Constitution.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. You may reach me by email at carl.newton@okhouse.gov, or phone me at 405-557-7339.  May God Bless you and the State of Oklahoma.

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