Capital City: Governor reaffirms anti-abortion stance
Good Thursday morning.
Gov. Kevin Stitt reaffirmed his support for anti-abortion legislation at a Capitol rally on Wednesday and said he wanted to see the U.S. Supreme Court outlaw abortion across the nation.
“I want to work with the Legislature to continue to push pro-life legislation forward and I (want to) think how we can also influence our Supreme Court to actually change some things,” said Stitt, speaking at the annual Rose Day rally.
At least 11 anti-abortion bills have been filed this year, including Senate Bill 13, which would make abortion a felony homicide.
Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat is opposed to abortion, but he said he wouldn’t want to advance legislation that he knew would be ruled unconstitutional.
Even with a shift at the U.S. Supreme Court, Treat said he isn’t ready to test the limits just yet.
“I’ve got to reevaluate on the federal side of what our chances are, (but) I seek opinions from constitutional attorneys, not necessary political consultants,” Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said Wednesday.
Capitol security increased ... Leaders in the Oklahoma House increased security by erecting guard stations in hallways, banning public access to stairwells and hiring an ex-police officer licensed to carry a gun, reports the Associated Press.
The increase in security was imposed by majority Republicans as a new session of the Legislature opened Monday.
“These changes aren’t meant to be heavy-handed in any way,” House Speaker Charles McCall told The Associated Press. “We’re interested in being proactive to ensure people who visit the Capitol have a safe, positive experience.”
County commissioner working as lobbyist ... Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey is working as a registered lobbyist. It's legal, but one state lawmaker thinks it's unethical.
Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, said he expects the Legislature to vote on ethics rules later this year and he plans to offer an amendment that would make county officials subject to the lobbying ban.
Calvey, a former state representative, was elected District 3 Oklahoma County Commissioner last year.
Calvey, a Republican, is also a registered lobbyist for the anti-abortion group Oklahomans For Life Inc., according to the state Ethics Commission.
The publication NonDoc reported that Calvey was at the Capitol on Wednesday and claimed he was advocating for both anti-abortion legislation and county interests.
“I’m here today for Oklahomans for Life,” Calvey said while walking to the Capitol Wednesday morning from a parking lot, according to NonDoc. “And I’ll probably put in a good word for county roads and some criminal justice reform stuff we have an interest in at the county.”
Tulsa mayor provides details on police oversight program ... Mayor G.T. Bynum on Wednesday presented city councilors with a draft proposal to create an Office of the Independent Monitor to oversee police investigations of use-of-force incidents, make recommendations on police policies, and engage the public, reports the Tulsa World.
The mayor said much has been made of the OIM’s role in reviewing police investigations, but insisted his proposal should not be interpreted to mean he does not have faith in officers.
“My motivation for proposing this is not about a lack of confidence in our officers, it is being proposed because we have made a commitment to community policing in Tulsa — in spirit, not just in words,” Bynum said. “I believe that these (OIM) entities all help further empower citizens and police to work together in making Tulsa a safer place.”
Medical marijuana working group meeting next week ... A meeting of the legislative working group on medical marijuana is scheduled for Wednesday to discuss a “unity proposal” that will address several outstanding issues. The proposal would provide guidelines and regulations for the state’s rapidly growing industry.
The Oklahoman's David Dishman reports that among the topics included are: the testing of THC levels within products; proper labeling of medical marijuana products; and employment-related issues for medical marijuana patients within the state, Sen. Greg McCortney said. Lawmakers want those issues addressed quickly, he said.
“There’s a very real hope the governor would sign those issues into law before the end of February,” McCortney, co-chairman of the working group, said this week. “I think there is definite agreement across the board that these are issues that need to be solved, and they need to be solved quickly.”
Legislators have filed more than a dozen bills related to medical marijuana regulation ... Senate Bill 755 addresses advertising issues and SB 756 calls for child-resistant packaging for medical marijuana products. Both were drafted by McCortney.
Senate bills 760 and 763 offer physicians the ability to issue a short-term license and set monthly limits for a patient.
DA's push back on sentencing reform bill ... District attorneys have raised concerns that a bipartisan bill to make criminal justice reforms Oklahoma voters approved in 2016 retroactive could clog the courts with people asking for lighter prison sentences, reports The Frontier.
Not even a week in to the legislative session, there’s already talk of amending the proposal — potentially impacting the sentences of thousands of people in Oklahoma prisons for drug-related convictions.
State Question 780 changed simple drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor in Oklahoma. House Bill 1269 would make that change retroactive.
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