Bill Watch: At a dead end

Six weeks into the 2019 legislative session, the House and Senate hit their second major deadline last Thursday. Bills that failed to pass off the floor of their chamber of origin are now dead for this session (for various exceptions to this deadline, see our 2019 Legislative Primer).  Bills that have made it this far now will be assigned to committees in the other chamber, where they will have until April 11th (or April 18th in the case of Senate bills assigned to the House Appropriations committee) to pass out of committee.

Currently, 813 bills and joint resolutions remain active – 378 from the House and 435 from the Senate – of the 2,838 total measures introduced thus far this session, a 29 percent survival rate. Very few bills, however, are truly dead. Bills that were not heard in 2019 remain eligible for consideration in 2020. Also, bills that are not heard early in session can re-emerge as committee substitutes for other bills or as leadership bills later in session.

This week we are focusing on some key bills that passed out of committee but did not get heard or were defeated in the full House or Senate in the areas of education, criminal justice, and taxes. Our previous updates looked at bills we are following and bills that failed to pass out of committee.


Some promising education bills failed to pass the March 14th deadline for a floor vote. HB 1007 (Rep. Rosecrants), also known as Lauren’s Law, which would require professional development for certified teachers and administrators to include information on consent and health relationships, failed 39-56. Some lawmakers expressed concern that the bill did not include abstinence-only language. However, SB 926 (Sen. Floyd) passed the Senate floor and this bill would require sex education curriculum to include information about consent. Disappointingly, HB 1989 (Rep. Nollan), which would have allowed restorative discipline practices to be used as an alternative to suspension, also failed to be heard on the floor. 

A few bills that would tighten restrictions on virtual charter schools failed to make it out of their respective chambers. SB 57 (Sen. Sharp) would have prohibited virtual charter schools from giving bonus payments to personnel for recruiting teachers to their school. HB 2139 (Rep. Sneed) would have added virtual charter schools to statute authorizing the suspension of certification if a teacher leaves a school mid-year to work for another district while still under contract. However, this provision has been folded into HB 1395 (Rep. Dills), which passed a House vote last week. HB 1229 (Rep. McBride), which would have eliminated the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board and transferred its powers to the State Board of Education also, failed. 
SB 11 (Sen. McCortney), which would have moved the pre-K cutoff date from September 1st to August 1st failed to be heard by the full Senate, as did SB 579 (Sen. Stanislawski), which would have eliminated 4-day school weeks by increasing the number of hours schools are required to be in session. However, a less restrictive bill, SB 441, passed a floor vote, and it would allow schools to institute 4-day weeks if they meet certain performance and cost savings requirements. 

Criminal Justice

Many of the criminal justice bills that survived last week’s legislative deadline are critical to ending the unsustainable growth of our prisons. Here are a few of the bills that failed last week’s deadline as well as some we’re still watching.

SB 357 (Sen. Bice), which made the provisions of SQ 780 retroactive, failed to get a floor vote, but a companion measure, HB 1269 (Rep. Dunnington and Rep. Echols) passed from the House floor. This bill now begins the committee process in the Senate.

Two important bills focused on undoing justice disparities impacting historically marginalized communities both failed to receive a House vote last week: HB 1855 (Rep. Hill), which would have provided racial or community impact statements  on justice legislation, and HB 2523, (Rep. Tammy West), a measure designed to reform failure to protect laws which disproportionately impact Oklahoma women.

A measure aimed at reforming supervision fees collected by District Attorneys, HB 1405 (Rep. Humphrey), failed last week’s deadline, but several fines and fees reforms remain. HB 2218 (Rep. May) and SB 618 (Sen. Jech) both aim to lower the impact of court debt on vulnerable Oklahomans. We’re also following positive parole reforms, HB 2273 (Rep. West) and SB 616 (Sen. Jech), which both moved over to the opposite chamber last week as well.


Last week, we discussed a number of bills to expand existing tax credits or create new ones that would have a combined annual revenue impact of over $200 million. All these big-ticket tax credit bills remain alive except HB 2621 (Rep. Echols), the House version of legislation to increase the annual cap on tax credits for education scholarships. However, the companion Senate measure, SB 407 (Sen. Rader),  that raises the annual cap from $5 million to $20 million, narrowly won approval from the full Senate and moves over to the House. Meanwhile, HB 1160 (Rep. Worthen) that would have created a tax deduction of up to $2,500 per family for education expenses such as tuition, fees, or equipment, was not heard by the full House.

Another bill that died after not being heard was HB 1950 (Rep. Dustin Roberts) that would have levied a new tax on electric and hybrid vehicles.


Oklahoma Policy Insititute (OK Policy) advances equitable and fiscally responsible policies that expand opportunity for all Oklahomans through non-partisan research, analysis, and advocacy.

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