We’re quickly approaching our legislative deadline to hear bills on the House floor. Thursday, March 11th is the final day to pass bills out of their chamber of origin, so any bill that isn’t heard on or by that day is considered dead for the legislative.
This year, a total of 1,942 House Bills were filed, and 503 made it out of committee prior to the Feb. 25 deadline. We passed 179 bills this week, with just under 300 bills that are eligible to be considered still remaining.
I’ve passed seven bills off the House floor so far and have two more remaining, which I’m hoping to present next week before the Thursday deadline. I’m very appreciative of my colleagues support in the House, without which none of these bills would get through the process.
We’ve heard and approved several bills this week that I am particularly proud of.
On Thursday morning, the House overwhelming approved House Bill 1602, one of the first opt-in data privacy bills in the country. Nicknamed the Oklahoma Computer Data Privacy Act, the legislation would require internet technology companies to obtain explicit permission to collect and sell personal data.
The bill was spearheaded by Reps. Josh West and Collin Walke, who led a bipartisan interim study last year over this topic. I was proud to co-author and vote in favor of this legislation to give citizens more control over their privacy and prevent companies from selling personal information without the users consent.
We also passed the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act on Wednesday evening, which protects religious freedom and the right to worship that is guaranteed in our U.S. Constitution. House Bill 2648 classifies anything closing a place of worship would be considered a substantial burden on the freedom of religion. This bill would prevent any government from forcing our churches to close, as we have seen happen in numerous other states across the nation over the last year.
On Monday, the House approved House Bill 2085 to add the national motto of “In God We Trust” to all state government buildings. This bill reminds us of our country’s history as a safe haven for worship and help unify us as Americans and as Oklahomans. This important piece of our history deserves to be celebrated here in Oklahoma as it is in thousands of government buildings nationwide.
I also want to provide an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in our state. Thankfully, hospitalizations are down 75%, and, as of Monday March 1st, we had the lowest seven-day average of daily cases since last August.
We’ve administered more than one million vaccines and are ranked in the Top Ten nationally for percentage of our population with at least one shot. Over 680,000 Oklahomans have received one dose already – about 17% of our total population.
The State Dept. of Health announced Monday they expect to receive more than 31,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before next week. Since this vaccine only requires one shot and is much easier to store, the first doses will primarily go to rural communities across the state.
As we prepare to hear hundreds other bills next week, please know you can always contact me about legislation you are passionate about or have concerns over. It’s an honor to serve House District 51—God bless!