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12.6.20 – Tulsa World — OKLAHOMA CITY

Lawmakers have started filing bills for the legislative session that begins Feb. 1.

They have until Jan. 21 to complete the process, with exceptions for appropriations bills.

Several measures are expected to be refiled from last session after lawmakers were forced to cut the session down due to COVID-19.

Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma, has filed Senate Joint Resolution 3 that would let voters decide if teachers could return to the classroom immediately after leaving the Legislature, waiving the two-year waiting period.

It is a constitutional amendment.

Hicks said the two-year waiting period should not apply to educators. She said the state desperately needs teachers.

Hicks said teachers should not have to change career paths for two years.

Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, has a somewhat related measure, Senate Joint Resolution 1.

The measure would let voters decide to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to allow members of the Legislature to serve as an employee of a school district, a technology center school district or in higher education during his or her term in office.

It also allows former members of the Legislature to return to the profession or business that they practiced prior to being elected.

The Oklahoma Constitution currently prohibits a lawmaker from going to work for a state-appropriated agency for two years after leaving office.

The prohibition doesn’t apply to payments made from federal dollars, fees or other funding sources, such as grants.

Hicks is also the author of Senate Bill 55 that would require all passengers in a vehicle to wear a seat belt, including passengers in the back of the vehicle.

Another Hicks measure, Senate Bill 24, deals with Juneteenth.

“Right now, the state does not recognize the Juneteenth holiday on June 19,” Hicks said. “It is reserved for a Saturday.”

Juneteenth is a holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves.

The measure would move the designated date from the third Saturday of June to June 19.

Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City, is the author of Senate Bill 6 designed to protect law enforcement.

It would prohibit a person from publishing information about a law enforcement officer with the intent to threaten, intimidate, harass or stalk the officer.

The first offense would be a misdemeanor. A second offense would be a felony.

Rosino said the issue came up during recent antipolice demonstrations and efforts to defund the police.

“All I am trying to do is protect our law enforcement,” Rosino said. “They shouldn’t have to go to work and wonder if their families and spouses are safe at home.”

Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, is the author of Senate Bill 18, designed to give greater protections to people exercising their right to bear arms.

“Essentially, the bill prohibits government entities from punishing law enforcement officers, including sheriffs, for refusing to violate a law-abiding citizen’s Second Amendment rights,” Bergstrom said. “Since these officers swear an oath to protect our citizens’ constitutional rights, this supports them in that commission.”