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Capitol briefs for Feb. 20, 2020: Bill expanding parental rights around vaccines, post-birth practices fails

In this Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, a nurse prepares a flu shot from a vaccine vial at the Salvation Army in Atlanta. Most doses of vaccine are made in a production process that involves growing viruses in chicken eggs. [AP Photo/David Goldman]
In this Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018 file photo, a nurse prepares a flu shot from a vaccine vial at the Salvation Army in Atlanta. Most doses of vaccine are made in a production process that involves growing viruses in chicken eggs. [AP Photo/David Goldman]

Vaccine bill fails in committee

Bill expanding parental rights around vaccines, post-birth practices fails

A bill expanding parental rights around vaccinations and post-birth preferences was voted down in the House Children, Youth and Family Services Committee on Wednesday. The bill's original intent was to let parents decide what injections, bathing practices and vaccines their newborns would receive, and to add specific language stating that no minors could receive vaccines without parental consent.

The measure, authored by Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, was debated by the committee for close to an hour. Multiple amendments were added and taken away from the bill as representatives questioned exactly what the bill would do and the possible harms it might bring to children. “I am really concerned with the number of amendments we’ve seen go by,” said Rep. Derrel Fincher, R-Bartlesville. Specific concerns included the possibility for parents to deny standard post-birth practices without having received thorough explanations of why they are done and the bill’s requirement of a fine up to $10,000 and jail time if a person gave a newborn a bath without parental permission. The bill ultimately failed by a vote of 10-5.

Stitt requests reports on all state-owned vehicles

Gov. Kevin Stitt may be looking to thin the state’s fleet of vehicles.

Stitt on Feb. 11 signed an executive order asking for an update on nearly all state-owned vehicles, saying it would help him in making an informed decision about the necessary vehicle fleet.

He is requesting all state agency heads report the make, model, year and vehicle identification number of all vehicles that logged less than 4,800 miles in 2019. They also will have to report the purpose of the vehicle, frequency of use and the mileage driven last year to the state’s Fleet Management office and John Budd, the state’s chief operating officer, by March 31.

“It has been brought to my attention that the State of Oklahoma owns perhaps in excess of 9,000 such vehicles, and it is probable that more than a few are under-utilized and not necessary in order for the State to perform its services,” Stitt wrote in the order.

Special purpose vehicles, such as salt trucks, are exempt from the executive order.

Stitt’s directive also requires state agency heads to ensure all the state-owned vehicles under their oversight have been equipped with an automatic vehicle locator by March 31.

The state already requires some reporting on public vehicles. The Fleet Management division of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services requires agencies to submit monthly reports that detail mileage and any maintenance or repairs to state-owned vehicles.

Senate panel scraps effort to bar non-citizens from voting

Oklahoma’s Legislature will not advance a proposal to tweak the state’s constitution to make it more clear that non-U.S. citizens are not allowed to vote.

The legislation from Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, would have asked voters to alter Oklahoma’s constitution to say "only citizens of the United States" are allowed to vote.

Oklahoma does not allow noncitizens to vote, but the constitution does not explicitly exclude noncitizens from voting, Bergstrom said in a Senate Rules Committee hearing Wednesday.

Oklahoma defines qualified electors as all citizens of the United States, who are age 18 or older and residents of the state.

Citing cities like San Francisco and College Park, Maryland, that are allowing non-citizens to vote, Bergstrom said he wants to prevent the same from happening in Oklahoma.

“It is the same as always in that everyone who is a citizen is going to be able to vote, but if you’re not a citizen of the United States you will not be able to vote in the state of Oklahoma,” he said.

Bergstrom, who said he does not think noncitizens are voting in Oklahoma, pointed to North Dakota, where voters passed a similar measure in 2018.

Senate Join Resolution 23 faced bipartisan opposition, and was voted down 7-3.

Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, questioned whether this was enough of an issue to warrant putting the question before Oklahoma voters.

Sen Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, echoed similar concerns. She also said she feared the legislation would result in distrust of Oklahoma's elections.

"I’m concerned that this bill is not a significant enough change to warrant putting it on the ballot for a statewide initiative," she said. "I’m concerned that it implies that our election system is anything less than trustworthy."

Staff reports

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