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Capital City: Abortion opponents clash over bill

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Anti-abortion activists gather Monday on the first floor of the Capitol. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Anti-abortion activists gather Monday on the first floor of the Capitol. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

Good Tuesday morning. 

On Monday, abortion opponents clashed at the state Capitol over a bill that some said did not do enough to protect the unborn. 

A Senate committee advanced Senate Bill 195, which would “trigger” a state ban on abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision making abortion a constitutional right. 

The bill’s passage was opposed by some anti-abortion activists who were at the Capitol on Monday to show support for Senate Bill 13, which would immediately classify abortion as a homicide. Supporters of SB 13 chanted outside the committee room and yelled at lawmakers and abortion rights supporters as they left. Here's my story from the committee meeting and the events of the day. 

Also in the Senate on Monday ... The Oklahoma Senate’s Committee on Agriculture and Wildlife advanced a bill that regulates industrial hemp.

Oklahoma Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, SB 868’s author, told committee members Monday the measure aims to take a pilot program he created a year ago that allows Oklahoma farmers to grow the crop for commercial purposes and make it into a permanent one that can be followed by farmers and regulators.

If made law, it would require Oklahoma’s Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry to work with the Governor’s office and Oklahoma's Attorney General to develop a plan to license and regulate industrial hemp production, and to submit that plan to federal authorities for review no later than Jan. 1, 2020.

AG recommends changes for trooper promotions ... Attorney General Mike Hunter is calling for policy changes in the promotions process at the Oklahoma Highway Patrol "to avoid any appearance of impropriety."

The fixes would bar candidates for promotion from getting any assistance from troopers on promotion boards or from final decision-makers.

"We believe our recommended changes will ... better protect the integrity of the OHP and the men and women who put their lives on the line every day for Oklahomans," the attorney general told Rusty Rhoades, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.

Hunter made the recommendations in a letter last week after the state's multicounty grand jury heard testimony about promotions and indicted a patrol captain.

County destroying old records ... Oklahoma County has rid itself of several tons of unneeded court records, some of which it had been storing for more than a century.

Since April, volunteers have shredded millions of pages of court documents that have been sitting in storage for decades. The documents included property files from 1926 and divorce cases from 1915, said District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan.

“It was really just becoming a monstrosity," he said. 

Oklahoma has large population of 'justice involved' citizens ... People who have been charged with, convicted of or incarcerated for a crime make up 8.2 percent of Oklahoma's population, reports the Tulsa World

One year after release, 60 to 75 percent of those who are "justice involved" remain unemployed.

That's a large portion of Oklahoma's workforce that is out of work or underemployed because of the many barriers to employment at a time when many are predicting an employment crisis in the coming years as the Baby Boomers retire and the skills gap grows.

INBOX - Congressman Frank Lucas announced Patrick Bond as his communications director ... Bond previously worked for Alabama governors Robert Bentley and Kay Ivey. 

Thanks for reading. Got questions, suggestions or complaints? Email me at bfelder@oklahoman.com. 

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›

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