Six Bills to Watch in Oklahoma

Several good pieces of legislation are making their way through the Oklahoma Legislature this session. Lawmakers are looking to strengthen everything from the state’s unemployment program to Oklahoma’s free and fair elections. Here are six bills to keep your eyes on.

HB 3595: Strengthening unemployment insurance

The state’s unemployment insurance (UI) program is meant to provide a hand up to workers between jobs. But if the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it taught us that the UI program is ripe for waste, fraud, and abuse.

Representative Brian Hill has introduced HB 3595 to strengthen job search opportunities and to increase UI program integrity both now and in the future. The bill codifies Oklahoma’s job search website,, and directs the Oklahoma Economic Security Commission to coordinate with other agencies to ensure collaboration between public and private job boards in the state. UI claimants would be required to take a skills test, create a resume, and post it on the platform in order to receive benefits, with the purpose of speeding up the time between filing an unemployment claim and finding a new job. Additionally, the bill provides for additional claimant verification, allowing the state to screen for suspicious activity and cross-check claimants’ identities with other databases, including updated new-hire lists, incarceration records, and death records.

These commonsense reforms will immediately help to increase accountability and prevent UI fraud while simultaneously ensuring lawful claimants receive benefits and are propelled back to work faster. These reforms are non-controversial, and similar reforms have been successfully implemented in other states.

SB 1649: Protecting against rogue district attorneys

Prosecutorial discretion has allowed too many politically motived, rogue district attorneys to let criminals walk free. Investigative research shows that leftist billionaire George Soros is behind much of this scandal, spending up to $40 million to elect nearly three dozen district attorneys.

Senator Todd Gollihare has introduced legislation that provides a backstop to rogue district attorneys’ dereliction of duty. Among SB 1649’s reforms is a provision providing the Oklahoma Attorney General the same authority as district attorneys to prosecute crimes. If passed, Attorney General Gentner Drummond would have the authority to prosecute crimes that some district attorneys may sweep under the rug. SB 1649 would ultimately send a message to individuals like George Soros that the safety of Oklahoma’s communities is not up for grabs.

HB 3294: Preventing outside interference in elections

In 2020, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative spent $350 million to influence the outcome of the election by disproportionately sending funds designated for “election administration” to left-leaning counties across the country. Two years later, Rep. Mark Lepak led the charge to ban this kind of private influence from individuals like Mark Zuckerberg in Oklahoma’s elections. This session Rep. Lepak is back to close one more loophole that bad actors may try to use to influence elections.

HB 3294 would prevent any government entity from accepting any services—in addition to funds or in-kind goods—for the purposes of election administration unless the donation comes from a government entity. This simple reform will protect the integrity of Oklahoma’s elections and firmly close the door on folks like Mark Zuckerberg.

HB 2504: Stopping federal steamrolling of Oklahoma elections

On March 7, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14019, vaguely titled “Promoting Access to Voting.” The executive order requires the head of every federal executive agency to provide a strategic plan to the president’s Domestic Policy Advisor detailing how the agency will help increase voter registration and voter participation. This means federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency are being asked to be involved in get-out-the-vote efforts. The order also mandates that all federal agencies support “approved” third-party organizations to provide voter registration services on federal agency premises—with no guidance on what criteria will be used to approve these third parties.

This secretive scheme is a clear abuse of power and a way for the federal government to steamroll states’ authority over their own elections. Oklahoma can and should fight back. With HB 2504, Oklahoma can prevent federal interference in local elections by requiring legislative approval of federal guidance on elections before they go into effect.

HB 3156: Banning ranked-choice voting

Ranked-choice voting may be the new craze in leftist circles, but the actual mechanics of this voting method are absurd. Simply put, ranked-choice voting abandons our principle of “one-person, one vote” and instead requires voters to vote for every candidate—and if they don’t, their ballot may be trashed.

States that have embraced ranked-choice voting have seen the fallout in their elections. In 2022, Alaskans went out to vote in a special election to fill their at-large congressional seat. Despite the fact that 60 percent of voters selected a Republican candidate, a Democrat was declared the victor. Nearly 15,000 ballots were thrown out in a process that took more than two weeks to complete. Similar results that defy common sense have been recorded in elections ranging from a New York City Democratic mayoral primary to a congressional election in Maine.

HB 3156 has been introduced by Representative Eric Roberts to ban ranked-choice voting in the Sooner State. If passed, Oklahoma will join Florida, Tennessee, South Dakota, Idaho, and Montana in passing a ban on ranked-choice voting to protect voters’ rights to have their ballots counted.

SB 244: Moving school board elections to the fall 

More than 96 percent of school board members nationwide are elected, and they have a massive amount of control over the education and experiences of America’s public school students. The majority of these members—including in Oklahoma—are elected in off-cycle elections, meaning that the elections take place separate from statewide and federal elections in November. This results in significantly lower turnout, by design. With so few people voting in school board elections, special-interest groups like teachers’ unions can have greater influence. In Oklahoma, voter turnout for these off-cycle school board elections has been as low as 3.3 percent.

SB 244 would move school board elections to the fall, allowing them to appear alongside other major elections more often. Such a simple reform would have a major impact on voter participation in school board elections and help school boards better reflect the desires of the communities they serve.

It’s also popular: 71 percent of likely Oklahoma voters would favor moving school board elections to coincide with other statewide and federal general elections, including 73 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans.