From expanding legal raw milk sales to restricting children’s access to crossbows, here’s just a sampling of some of the more interesting, under-the-radar pieces of legislation filed in advance of the 2018 Oklahoma legislative session.
Most of the 2,102 pieces of legislation filed this year won’t ever become law and some don’t even have a chance at being heard in committee.
Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, has authored a proposal restrict children’s access to crossbows. House Bill 3369 is called Austin Almanza’s Law in honor of a 10-year old boy who died after fatal crossbow bolt wound to the abdomen in October 2017. Shane Edward Brooks, 13, of Wellston, has been charged with first-degree murder in Austin’s death. Wallace’s bill would make it illegal for anyone to sell or give a child under 18 a crossbow, except to hunt or to participate in safety classes. The offense would be punishable by up to a $500 fine and three months in jail for repeat offenses.
House Bill 3302, authored by Rep. Harold Wright, R-Weatherford, expands the definition of lewd and indecent acts upon a child to include forcing a child under 16 to “urinate or defecate upon the body or private parts of another person.”
The bill also broadens who can be charged with forcible sodomy. The bill would make it a crime for a person responsible for the “health, safety or welfare of a child,” to commit sodomy with a minor age 16 but under 18.
Oklahoma’s age of consent for sexual intercourse is 16. Forcible sodomy in Oklahoma can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Senate Joint Resolution 57, authored by Den. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, calls for a statewide vote on requirements to vaccinate children for school.
The measure seeks to remove a non-medical exemption that allows children to attend school without vaccinations against some diseases. Current law allows for parents or guardians to submit a written statement “objecting to the immunization of the child” in order to attend school.
Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, is seeking $5 million in appropriations to help commemorate the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot.
Senate Bill 1462, would fund the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Centennial Memorial Revolving Fund, overseen by the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Matthews is the chairman of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Centennial Commission, which wants to commemorate the anniversary with historical and educational exhibits and events and economic development programs.
House Bill 3176, authored by Rep. Jeff Coody, R-Grandfield, would legalize raw milk sales at Farmers’ markets in Oklahoma. The bill would require raw milk to be clearly labeled as “unpasteurized raw milk.” Current state law only allows for raw milk sales at the farm where it was produced. The federal government banned the sale of raw milk over state lines over 30 years ago, but states can still make their own laws on the subject. Currently, 19 states ban all sales of raw milk to consumers.
House Bill 2614, authored by Rep. Will Fourkiller, D-Stilwell, would create a statewide animal abuse registry, where the names of people convicted of certain animal cruelty offenses would be available to the the public in an online database.
Offenses that would warrant inclusion in the database are using live animals as a lure to train greyhounds; abandonment; transporting an animal in a cruel or inhumane manner and poisoning, as well as bear wrestling and horse tripping. Yes, a law enacted in 1996 makes it illegal to wrestle bears in Oklahoma. The law came about after a video footage of a bear wrestling event at a bar in Pawhuska provoked public outrage. The bill would require the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to maintain the registry.