Oklahoma State Capitol

The Oklahoma State Capitol Building is shown. Several anti-transgender bills have been filed this legislative session, and advocates say they are sending wrong messages to Oklahoma’s LGBTQ youth.

After the committee deadline last Thursday, many bills authored by Norman’s two state senators died, but some of their bills made it through and still have a chance at a floor vote.

State Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman, had two of her 20 proposed bills pass through committee. In the current political climate in Oklahoma, it is not rare for a Democrat’s bills to not make it through committee or to not even get a committee hearing.

One of Boren’s bills that made it through is S.B. 444, which would name the bridge over Chouteau Creek on U.S Highway 77 in Cleveland County “Tommy Wayne Haley Memorial Bridge.”

“A constituent from Lexington told me about this veteran to my attention,” Boren said. “He had been killed in the Vietnam War and he was recognized with multiple awards and honors, so I [wanted to honor him] in this way.”

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Boren’s second bill that passed committee is S.B. 500, which looks to provide more transparency in how Tax Increment Finance districts report how much their revenue is impacted by the TIF.

“It allows the community members and economists to see those numbers and to be able to monitor the progress of the TIF,” Boren said. “It also allows people the ability to look at how it impacts other entities that are relying on public resources for their funding. It doesn’t change how TIFs are approved, it doesn’t change how TIFs are evaluated — whether they’re good or bad — it just gives good raw numbers each year for those who want to evaluate the TIFs.”

Unlike Boren, state Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, had over half of his 43 proposed bills make it past the committee deadline. A total of 24 of his bills are now eligible for a floor vote.

One of his joint resolutions, S.J.R. 23, already passed the Senate floor early Tuesday morning with a vote of 37 in favor and 10 not in favor.

S.J.R. 23 would call a Constitutional Convention of the states under Article V of the Constitution. The convention would propose amendments to the Constitution that would relate to “the balancing of the federal budget, imposing fiscal restraints on the federal government, [limit] the power and jurisdiction of the federal government [by] limiting the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”

The resolution says that the federal government “has ceased to live under a proper interpretation of the Constitution of the United States,” which is why a resolution like this is necessary.

“I was incredibly honored to work with my friend, Dr. [Tom] Coburn, on getting this resolution originally passed a few years ago, and very proud of the book we worked on together, ‘Smashing the DC Monopoly,’ on this very topic,” Standridge said in a press release. “It gives tremendous insight into how Dr. Coburn determined that Article V was the right avenue for states, and how states can work together to reassert the sovereignty our founders intended. I’m proud to honor his memory by continuing to support this effort.”

In order to have any kind of effect, the resolution would need to be passed and approved in at least two-thirds of the state legislatures.

“Leaders in every state should stand up and show that the rights and freedoms of their citizens mean more than an all-powerful federal government that continually works to erode our rights and freedoms,” Standridge said.

Similar resolutions have been brought up in previous legislative sessions in many states, including Oklahoma, but have ultimately failed every time.

“I think there are a lot of personalities involved in this initiative that these people lift up as heroes that are more virtuous in their pursuit of the government,” Boren said. “As opposed to average Oklahomans that are just trying to get their kids to good schools and not be exploited by exploitive labor policies.”

Another bill of Standridge’s that passed committee is S.B. 747, which would prohibit health insurance companies from “discriminating” against a customer based on their vaccination or immunity status.

The bill states that no insurance company could deny, cancel or fail to renew an accident or health insurance policy based on vaccination status. It also states that the company cannot base renewal rates, premiums, policy fees or any rates charged on customers’ immunity or vaccination status.

“[The bill is] immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval,” the bill reads.

Standridge did not immediately respond to The Transcript’s request for comment.

Reese Gorman covers COVID-19, local politics and elections for The Transcript; reach him at rgorman@normantranscript.com or @reeseg_3.

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Staff Writer

Reese Gorman covers elections, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic for The Norman Transcript. He started as an intern in May of 2020 and transitioned into his current position as a staff writer in August of 2020.