With Session beginning and the introduction of new bills, citizen communication and traffic from Oklahoma Congress has increased in the Senate and House of Representatives.
A bill goes through many steps to become a law. First, the bill is introduced in the House or the Senate before undergoing a series of steps. Citizens can read more than 950 of the introduced bills in Oklahoma on LegiScan. Out of the many bills on LegiScan, SB 83 and HB 114 have received the most circulation by citizens in Oklahoma.
Senate Bill 83, drafted by Ervin Yen, if passed, would require all children to receive vaccinations. Yen has introduced this bill for the past two years and tried to convince the Senate to pass it and has been unsuccessful so far.
According to senior, political science major Cody Milner, enforcing vaccinations causes a question of ethics.
“I’ve met and have great respect for both Senator Yen and Liza Greve, who opposes Yen on this issue,” Milner said. “They’ve been going back and forth on this question for several years. Senator Yen’s argument is that allowing vaccine exemptions allows holes in the ‘armor’ of society that allow a disease outbreak to start. Ms. Greve, also a former physician, has complied data showing that vaccines are sometimes very dangerous as well, and argues that parents should have a choice to choose the safer option. Both have valid points and I cannot speak to the science of what the two sides present, but they both seem to have strong evidence backing them up.”
Senior, political science student Wesley Duncan said vaccinations are a difficult subject to address, but he sides with Senator Yen.
“From what I have researched, I believe myself to be a supporter of SB 83,” Duncan said. “I’m a believer in science and I believe vaccinations work, and I question skeptics who deny their effectiveness. That said, I am assuming the greater controversy lies in the fact that these vaccinations will be compulsory without parental consent. I believe that it should be the government’s duty to protect the greater good of the public. If children do not receive a vaccination but attend public school, this poses a risk to other children. Perhaps a political compromise would be to also include an exemption for homeschooled children.”
House Bill 1114, drafted by Michael Rogers, proposes a $6,000 raise in teacher’s salaries. The bill would raise the minimum teacher’s salary by $1,000 for the 2017-18 school year, another $2,000 for the 2018-2019 school year, and another $3,000 for the 2019-2020 school year.
Duncan said he agrees with the fundamentals of this bill.
“I believe the teachers are a fundamental part of our society and need proper compensation,” Duncan said. “From what I understand, Oklahoma unfortunately pays its teachers less than almost any other state. This appears to be an effective step to remedy such issues.”
Freshman, political science student Abigail Kent said Oklahoma teachers deserve a higher salary, but she did not think this bill provides a practical solution.
“In an ideal situation, pay raises for teachers would be highly deserved and beneficial,” Kent said. “However, with the economic circumstances of the state of Oklahoma, I don’t think such a bill is feasible. The only way to raise this much money for the school systems is to increase taxes. That was the goal of State Questions 779, voted on in November. It asked for a small increase in sales tax for education funding. However, the question was defeated by 59.4 percent of Oklahomans’ votes. Legislators should respect the people’s voice. Greater wages for teachers is a noble goal, but the ends do not justify the means.”
Harrison Petre, a sophomore political science student at Oklahoma Christian, said he thinks people should keep an eye out for bills that are in conflict or in harmony with their beliefs and goals.
“If you are really into the environment I would always keep an eye out for environmental bills,” Petre said. “My biggest advice would be to watch for bills and legislative work that you are passionate about so that you can have a say in their work and help better society.”