6 Weeks into Oklahoma’s Legislative Session: Update

By Michael Willmus

Photo by Michael Willmus from Oklahoma Watch

 

What do we know halfway through the Oklahoma Legislature’s session?

 

Oklahomans for the Arts has been tracking and weighing in on bills related to arts education, public art, cultural districts, nonprofit contributions and more.

If you’ve been watching the news, you likely are aware of the significant budget crisis our Legislature seeks to parley.

At the same time, they have been processing the more than 2,000 bills submitted in this legislative session. The pace is incredibly rapid with deadlines for bills to be heard in committee and on the floor of their originating chamber already behind us. (See this post for more on the process bills take in our state.)

Below is a quick summary of arts and culture-related bills thus far. You can watch our bill tracker whenever you want a detailed update.

We are not asking for specific unified actions at this time, but encourage you to be in touch with your legislators about these and other issues about which you care.

SUPPORTING:

We are pleased to support these bills:

  • HB 2452 Representative Watson & Senator Griffin: Would continue the State Employee Charitable Contributions program, which includes gifts to groups like United Way and Allied Arts. Next Step: Will be assigned to a Senate Committee
  • HB 2820 Representative Denney and Senator Bice: Will create licensing for music therapists. Next Step: Will be assigned to a Senate Committee

WATCHING:

These arts education bills remain active and we are watching closely to possibly request action:

  • SB 1380 Senator Ford: would reduce the number of fine arts credits needed for high school graduation for students who are not college-bound.Next Step: Will be assigned to a House Committee
  • HB 2527 Representative Casey: Removes fine arts assessment by district (along with removing of statewide mandated tests in other subjects). Next Step: Will be assigned to a House Committee

DORMANT BILLS:

Several bills we were concerned about were not heard in committee. We appreciate those committee chairs as now these bills are dormant. Those bills included:

  • SB 1173 Senator Brecheen: requiring prior approval of events and displays at the State Capitol. Committee: General Government
  • SB 1288 Senator Brecheen: Would have placed an automatic moratorium on the Art in Public Places program depending on previous year revenue certifications. Committee: Appropriations

And one bill was not heard that we supported and went dormant:

  • SB 1510 Senator Pittman: would recognize the Oklahoma Arts Council’s Cultural Districts officially. Status: Not heard in General Government Committee.

 Again, your regular communication with your legislators about the state’s priorities is the best advocacy. If you need more information about these or other bills, please be in touch.

The state budget negotiations will be our overall priority over the next six weeks! Be sure you’re on our email list to get timely alerts.