In the last few days of legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers pushed through three bills that are harmful to Oklahoma children and families. These bills have now gone to Governor Fallin for her signature or veto. Please call Gov. Fallin today at (405) 521-2342 and ask her to veto these harmful bills:
SB 1221 would make it easier to sentence minors as young as 13 years old to life in prison without parole. This bill is an attempt to get around a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders violates protections against cruel and unusual punishment. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s rulings, dozens of states have moved away from their most punitive juvenile sentencing practices. Four of the states that border Oklahoma – Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas, and Texas – have banned juvenile life without parole altogether. SB 1221 would take Oklahoma in the opposite direction and damage the careful work of criminal justice reformers who are seeking a smarter approach to public safety.
[Update: Governor Fallin has signed HB 2932. However, a plan to implement work requirements must still be developed by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and approved by the federal government. It is still worthwhile to speak out against this push to restrict SoonerCare.] HB 2932 would would end SoonerCare coverage for low-income parents who fail to complete work requirements. This move would endanger the health of thousands of Oklahomans and put entire families at risk. HB 2932 would threaten the health care of many parents who are already working in seasonal jobs or jobs with unpredictable hours. Losing health coverage will only make these parents less healthy and less able to work and support their children. And because Oklahoma hasn’t expanded Medicaid coverage for the vast majority of low-income working adults, most Oklahoma parents who lose their health care because of HB 2932 won’t have other options.
SB 1140 would allow foster care agencies to discriminate against prospective parents based on religion, sexual orientation, or other factors unrelated to whether the parent is able to provide a safe, loving home for their adopted children. Oklahoma has struggled for years to recruit more foster families and provide homes for thousands of Oklahoma kids in state custody, and this bill will only make that harder. The version of SB 1140 given final approval by the Legislature would even allow state funds to go to private foster care groups that discriminate against qualified foster families.
Oklahoma can do better than these anti-child, anti-family bills. Please call Governor Fallin at (405) 521-2342 and ask her to veto SB 1221 and SB 1140. If you’d prefer to contact her online, you can use this form. Governor Fallin can make the decision to sign or veto these bills any time in the next 15 days, so please call today or as soon as you can.