We heard 115 Senate bills on the House Floor last week, and the Senate heard 117 House bills. Each chamber still has about 300 measures eligible to be considered by our April 22 third-reading deadline. Once bills pass both legislative chambers, they are sent to the governor for his consideration of signing them into law unless modified by the second chamber.
I am the House author of three Senate bills this year that would fix some problems in our election laws. Oklahoma did a great job during the election last fall, but COVID-19 exposed some weaknesses in our system.
Senate Bill 710 will help the secretary of the State Election Board identify voters who have moved out of state or are deceased. This cleaning up of our roles will ensure ballots are only issued to eligible voters.
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 or who have an emergency, such as childbirth or military deployment. 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 175 deals with electioneering within 300 feet from a polling place. The issue was in defining what constituted the exact location of a polling place. In the last election, we had a candidate campaigning in a line at a polling place. This specifies the 300 feet begins at the entry point of a polling place or 300 feet from the last person in line. Electioneering is defined as advocating directly for or against a candidate or question that is on the ballot currently being voted on, 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.
These bills still need to be voted on in the House before advancing to the governor.
On a final note, I want to thank Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell for hosting two of his turkey hunts in Alva and Woodward recently. These hunts bring prospective business owners from around the world to see what our local communities have to offer in terms of potential business expansion. This could result in more jobs and a boom to our local economies.
Alva has been a host for the Lt. Governor’s Turkey Hunt since 1989, making it one of the longest participating communities involved. Over the years, companies such as Vantage Plane Plastics, SandRidge, and Iofina have expanded to this town thanks to the community’s support.
Woodward, meantime, has great air, highway and rail transportation making it an ideal location to showcase for manufacturers and service industries.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. You may reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone me at 405-557-7339. May God Bless you and the State of Oklahoma.