While you were (likely) sleeping, calendars flipped to Nov. 1, and it quickly became illegal to “text” while driving in Oklahoma.

Media coverage of this texting-while-driving measure has been immense, but if you’d like to read the full text of HB 1965, you can find it here. (Don’t stress, it’s only three pages.)

The new texting-while-driving law may well result in legal challenges, or, at the least, some confusion regarding what sorts of things a person can do with a cell phone that aren’t covered by the law.

But, in the meantime, let us take a look at some of the other new laws that took effect on Nov. 1, which is the usual effective date for Oklahoma legislation. (Sometimes, lawmakers will put an “emergency clause” on bills to make them take effect upon the governor’s signature or on, say, June 1.)

NonDoc reviewed all new laws taking effect and noted the ones that follow. Some make changes that could affect many people, while others are included for the sake of giggles.


2015 House bills taking effect

HB 1001 — exempts AmeriCorps volunteers from the definition of an employee. Primarily, however, the new laws affect regulations on how unemployment insurance can be obtained.

HB 1007 — is utterly pointless. It codifies the illegality of forcing any pastor or religious figure to conduct a ceremony that violates his or her faith. Written to pander to banal fears about gay marriage, this two-page bill puts into state law a protection already offered in spades by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

HB 1008 — increases from one to two the required public hearings before the creation of any “urban renewal plan.” The new law requires the first public hearing to be for information purposes only, with the second established for public comment.

HB 1033 — does a bunch of stuff you should probably read if your dream is to become a bail bondsman.

HB 1034 — allows an Indian tribe to sponsor a charter school within its reservation/treaty-area boundaries on land in trust with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Previously, tribes could only sponsor charter schools for the purpose of native-language immersion. Who will be the first tribe to submit an application?

HB 1037 — requires law enforcement to make available upon request video or audio recordings in which a person’s death was effected by a law enforcement officer. The new language is quite extensive, so click the bill number to read the full thing for yourself.

HB 1044 — changes a state-employee incentives program to allow state agencies with 10 or more employees create an incentivized Cost Saving Suggestion Box, wherein any employee who suggests something that ultimately saves at least $5,000 can receive 20 percent of those savings as a reward. (Remind us in three years to submit an Open Records request to see if anyone ever succeeds.)

HB 1047 — is bad news for child pornographers.

HB 1074 — creates the Right To Try Act, which lays out a pathway for terminally ill patients to accept an “investigational drug, biological product or device” from a manufacturer. Liability is waved, as are debts to family members regarding the drug/product costs should the patient die.

HB 1081 — allows the Oklahoma Board of Nursing to impose a “corrective action” such as continuing education upon any nurse found in violation of the Oklahoma Nursing Practice Act or a board rule.

HB 1150 — allows mental health treatment facilities to be located within 1,000 feet of a school.

HB 1263 — requires the court system to reimburse all court costs and fees to anyone whose criminal conviction is expunged as a result of DNA evidence.

HB 1409 — increases from 24 to 72 hours the time a woman must wait after being told a litany of things about abortions by a doctor before she can actually receive an abortion. The new law also requires her to receive printed materials containing the statement, “Abortion shall terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” (HB 1721, meanwhile, has been blocked by a judge. That bill would seek to ban certain types of abortions.)

HB 1460 — sets the State Legislature as the preempting authority for knife regulation in Oklahoma.

HB 1566 — instructs the state’s Medicaid agency (the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) to initiate requests for proposal for “care coordination” models that would, in theory, provide cost savings by having care for aged, blind and disabled Oklahomans be managed as a group.

HB 1630 — requires the Department of Corrections to check with county jails and contract with them for bed space prior to contracting with private prisons in the instance that state correctional facilities are at capacity.

HB 1650 — removes mesh-measurement requirements on nets used to harvest aquatic turtles by people holding a commercial turtle harvester’s license in Oklahoma.

HB 1684 — requires teachers’ professional development courses offered by school districts to include training about identifying child sexual abuse.

HB 1685 — implements a statewide ban on the use of tobacco on any school property or in any school vehicle for both public and private schools, ranging from early childhood education centers to 12th grade.

HB 1756 — reminds the world of the Oklahoma Peanut Commission’s existence and removes the Oklahoma Agriculture Commissioner’s authority to cease said existence. (For more on the Peanut Commission, check out this “Profile in Peanut Profitability.”)

HB 1806 — allows a law enforcement officer to obtain an alcohol breath or blood test (or other intoxicating substance test) against a conscious person’s wishes if the officer has a search warrant authorizing the tests.

HB 1834 — requires the Office of Juvenile Affairs or any county juvenile bureau to inquire as to whether a child being processed into state custody has American Indian lineage. If a child does, the office or county bureau must notify the corresponding tribe within 24 hours.

HB 1847 — changes age limits on safety device requirements for children riding in automobiles.

HB 1879 — provides for a secondary means of execution if lethal injection is found to be an unconstitutional means by which to apply Oklahoma’s death penalty.

HB 1911 — legalizes the carrying of a switchblade knife or any knife that opens via the application of hand pressure to a button. (Bowie knives, dirk knives, sword canes and metal knuckles remain illegal.)

HB 1948 — expands access to the information collected and stored under the Anti-Drug Diversion Act, which seeks to limit prescription drug abuse.

HB 2181 — lowers the number of signatures required to petition for a new political party in Oklahoma from 5 percent to 3 percent the number of voters in the state’s last general election.

HB 2182 — creates an Incentive Evaluation Commission to review all state economic incentives (i.e. tax credits) once every four years. The new commission will distribute RFPs for independent third parties to conduct the evaluations and submit reports. Ideally, the reports will finally allow lawmakers, business leaders and the public to have comparable data when analyzing the efficacy of state economic incentives. (The first of these reviews are expected to reach legislators for the 2017 session.)


2015 Senate bills taking effect

SB 56 — removes Social Security Number from the list of information required on an application for a handgun license.

SB 62 — establishes a list of penalties for aiming a laser pointer at a flying aircraft.

SB 64 — allows the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training to subpoena or ask a court to subpoena confidential medical records for the purpose of determining whether and how an applicant is engaged in mental health treatment.

SB 249 — directs the State Board of Behavioral Health Licensure to create rules for the allowance of out-of-state mental health professionals to help provide counseling following a disaster declaration in Oklahoma.

SB 297 — creates the Heritage Preservation Grant Program within the Oklahoma Historical Society to provide funding for the improvement of museums and historical organizations and increase the collecting, preserving and sharing of Oklahoma history at the “grassroots level.”

SB 312 and SB 313 — were explained herein on NonDoc.

SB 362 — codifies the fact that no person shall be prohibited from recording the activities of law enforcement agents in the public arena, so long as that recording activity does not delay or obstruct a law enforcement agent.

SB 386 — allows any county to build a county-owned parking lot. (Previously, only counties with populations above 300,000 could do so.)

SB 414 — creates a list of several private universities in Oklahoma at which students can apply for “tuition equalization grants.”

SB 420 — creates a “Small Farm Winery” definition and license under state winery laws, differentiating smaller wineries from larger ones.

SB 502 — states that beginning Jan. 1, 2017, no new income tax credits for the creation of wind-power energy will be allowed.

SB 713 — directs the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to facilitate the development of seven drop-in centers for Oklahoma veterans, pending the availability of funds.

SB 753 — allows a physician assistant’s supervising physician to be present via telemedicine.

SB 781 — modifies many regulations in the State Dental Act.

SB 782 — allows any school district to sponsor a charter school and lays out many other regulations.

SB 839 — allows the creation of an Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture.