Bill would allow teen rapists to be charged as adults
April 18, 2021
We’re coming up on the next big deadline for action on most bills. April 22 is the last day for the Senate to vote on legislation sent over from the House, and the last day for them to consider bills we sent over. There are a few exceptions to that deadline. Appropriations bills and bills dealing with redistricting can be heard at any point in the legislature, as well as bills authored jointly by the leaders in both chambers. Another exception is bills that pass out of one chamber, are amended by the other, but both sides can’t agree on those amendments. In that case, the bill is sent to a conference committee so a compromise version can be worked out – those bills can also be heard after that April 22 deadline.
I have an important piece of public safety legislation this session I’d like to tell you about. In Oklahoma, a teen arrested for first-degree murder can be charged as an adult. This session, I filed a bill which allows teenagers between 15 and 17 who are arrested for first-degree rape to be charged as adults as well. First-degree rape is a violent, intentional act, and the emotional and physical aftermath for the victim can be more devastating than most of us will ever really be able to fully understand. This is not a crime where a violent predator should be allowed to basically get a slap on the wrist and walk away as if nothing happened after they turn 18. I believe it is important for Oklahoma to make a stand on behalf of the victims of this heinous crime. My legislation has now been approved by the full Senate and the House. The next step is consideration of House amendments – if accepted, the bill will be sent to Gov. Stitt for his approval.
Now that we’re getting through the bulk of policy bills before the Legislature, you’re going to start seeing our work on the budget coming front and center. To be clear, that work has been ongoing since the end of the last session in 2020. Members have been going over the economic outlook and revenue projections ever since then. Budget hearings have been held, and negotiations are underway. Our Appropriations subcommittee chairs have been meeting with the chair and vice chair once or twice each week and with their counterparts in the House as well. I’m pleased that we’re in much better fiscal shape than had been anticipated just a year ago. Oklahoma opened up much sooner than other states, and our economy and employment levels have dramatically improved. Additionally, in an abundance of caution, we didn’t spend the full amount we could have last year, leaving us additional one-time funds that we can use in the new budget. However, we must be fiscally conservative and ensure those funds are not used for recurring expenses. We must continue to carefully prioritize our core services that Oklahomans rely on, including transportation funding for our roads and bridges, education, public safety and health care.
In closing, I want to share some very exciting news. You may recall, last January, Oklahoma hosted the inaugural Cattlemen’s Congress in response to the cancellation of the National Western Stock Show in Denver. We had more than 2,793 exhibitors from 41 states and three Canadian provinces. The total economic impact of this event was more than $50 million. At that time, I passed a concurrent resolution urging everyone to return and make this an annual event.
It’s happening – the Cattlemen’s Congress will be back in 2022, with even more breed associations participating this time around. The event will be held Jan. 1-16 and I predict this will only continue to grow in the coming years. I’m proud to promote the Cattlemen’s Congress and will continue working here in the Legislature to promote Oklahoma’s beef industry within our state, throughout the country and around the world.
It is my honor to serve you in the Oklahoma State Senate. You can reach me by calling 405-521-5626 or emailing [email protected]