A look at first bills filed for 2023 session (Capitol Update)

With the desk now open for prefiling bills for the upcoming session, it’s interesting to see what legislators have on their mind. Most bills get filed at or near the bill-filing deadline which this year is January 19. Early filings can happen for various reasons. Sometimes the bills are on hot-button issues. Others are filed to get attention that the bill would not get if filed among the rush of filings at deadline, perhaps to gain support.

Not unexpectedly, the first two House bills filed this year are gun bills. Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland, filed House Bill 1001 that reduces the minimum age at which a person is allowed to carry or transport a concealed or unconcealed weapon from age 21 to age 18. HB 1002 gives a county sheriff the authority to detain or arrest any federal employee operating within the sheriff’s county “while enforcing any federal act, law, executive order, administrative order, court order, rule, policy, or regulation in that provides for the buy-back, confiscation or surrender of firearms, accessories, or ammunition” contrary to Oklahoma law.

Senate Bill 1 by Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, requires school districts to publish on their websites the amount of their carryover funds from the previous fiscal year along with the purpose for which the carryover funds may be used. 

SB 2 by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, requires each school district, charter school, career tech and higher education institution to disseminate printed or emailed historic Thanksgiving proclamations beginning with the Continental Congress in 1777 and ending with the proclamation issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, and including the proclamation by Oklahoma City Mayor Sidney Clarke in 1889.

Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, filed HB 1003 that requires a person convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substance, when the offense caused the death of a parent or parents of a child, be ordered by the court to pay child support to the child until the child reaches 18 years of age. 

A bill that caught my attention is SB 4 filed by Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah. The bill restores the powers of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission by removing language passed in 2019 that makes it an advisory board. The bill removes the power of the governor to appoint the executive director of the Tourism and Recreation Department and gives that authority to the commission. It leaves the authority to appoint the commissioners with the governor, with the advice and consent of the senate, but provides a commissioner may be removed only for cause rather than serving at the pleasure of the governor. 

It will be interesting to see if SB 4 will be followed by other bills restoring authority that was given to the governor in the past few years back to boards and commissions.


Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1990. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

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