58th Legislative Session Kicks Off
The 58th legislative session began on Feb. 7, 2022, giving way to different bills that will become law in our state, directly or indirectly affecting us all.
Several bills have been filed this year that may affect or benefit sectors, such as the economy, taxes, marijuana laws, immigration laws, and laws that may affect the Oklahoma City Community College students with the proposals in education.
There are about 300 education bills that will be heard this legislative session that are likely to affect students’ lives.
SB1415, proposed by Republican Senator Nathan Dahm, could require institutions affiliated with the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education not to exceed in charging students who pay tuition fees rates that exceed the rates approved for the 2021-22 academic year. Another bill that could equally affect students is SB1654 by Republican Senator Shane Jett, which would prohibit public school libraries from maintaining in their inventory or using books in the curriculum that make it their primary subject the study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender issues.
“Just something as simple as a little policy change, or a law that they are (legislators) writing, can have a profound impact on student’s life every day on campus,” Sergio Martinez said when asked about how important this legislative session might be for students at OCCC.
Martinez is the current Student and Government Association president at Oklahoma City Community College and part of the legislative committee on campus.
Martinez said the idea that any laws passed could have a significant impact on students’ lives, adding that many times these laws are passed “unnoticed” by many that either support them or disapprove of them.
“I just think that the legislative session helps. Having an opinion from different people and getting a clear perspective of it (a topic), and you know, get the legislators to get the best decision for our community,” Valeria Angulo, an OCCC student majoring in journalism and broadcasting at OCCC, said.
One controversial law, SB 1274, proposed by Republican Nathan Dahm, would put into action as one of the requirements to obtain the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program scholarship, better known as Oklahoma’s Promise, to have a composite score of 22 or higher on the ACT test for the 2023-24 school year if it is enacted into law.
“In my personal opinion, I think it is an impediment for future and upcoming students because many students don’t have maybe the access to ACT prep, books, guides, you know those types of things help, and not everyone has them. Some of them really need Oklahoma’s Promise, and by doing that, it kinda takes away from them that opportunity of having that help,” Angulo said with a worried look.
Angulo added that she will keep a tab on bills that may impact her community.
“Find out who your state and local legislators are, get in contact with them, and ask questions,” Martinez said.
If you are unsure how to find them, you can go to openstates.org and go to the ‘find your legislator,’ type in your address and the list of state House and Senate members and federal legislators will pop up.
“We need more diverse wonderful people to get involved so we can continue to make (OTrip) the wonderful place that it is,” Martinez said.
If you want to get involved as well, visit the Student Government Association and Student Life. They will direct you to the right place. Maybe by getting involved now, you might get involved later, and perhaps you will change our laws one day.