The end of this week’s business at the state legislature wraps up the latest deadline for committee hearings on bills from the opposite chamber. All bills approved in committee will be advanced for a potential hearing on the respective chamber floors. Among the bills advanced are a handful of measures supported by the Catholic Conference.
Senate Bill 407 proposes to greatly expand the cap on private contributions to the Opportunity Scholarship Fund. The fund distributes these donor funds in the form of scholarships to private schools for children with disabilities and in great economic need. The bill also expands the opportunity for private dollars to be contributed to public schools around the state, which can be invested in teacher salaries, bonuses, training incentives and virtually any other improvement program designated by the local district.
Several pro-life measures will advance as well. House Bill 2591 proposes to ban state funds to any health care organization that is implicated in the failure to report statutory rape. Senate Bill 614 would require conspicuous signage at abortion clinics informing women of the possibility of reversing a chemically-induced abortion. And Senate Bill 108 proposes to require that the actual cause of death be listed on a death certificate. This serves as a preemptive impediment to the possibility of assisted suicide in Oklahoma.
Finally, House Bill 1269, referred to as the ‘780 retro’ bill, would apply reforms imposed by State Question 780 retroactively to inmates already sentenced to prison for offenses which are now no longer felonies under the state’s criminal code. This bill is part of a broad package aimed at aggressive criminal justice reform both to reduce our state’s prison population and to reorient our corrections programs to redemption rather than defaulting to incarceration.