House bill authorizes background checks

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Last week saw our first legislative deadline of the session, Feb. 28, which was the last day for House bills to pass committee. Bills must pass committee to be eligible to be heard on the House floor. We will now spend hours on the floor to hear and debate remaining bills. March 14 is the deadline to vote on bills in the chamber they originated in, and bills that pass will go to the Senate to undergo the same process.

I passed three bills through committee last week. I serve as chair of the Public Health Committee and presented two of my bills before my colleagues there. My first bill, HB 2571, modifies the powers of the State Board of Medical Licensure by authorizing them to conduct criminal background checks for applicants. This legislation provides an important way for the board to ensure Oklahomans are receiving safe medical treatment from proper medical professionals.

HB 2430 also passed Public Health, and abolishes an old account used by the Department of Human Services and deposits the remaining amount into the General Revenue Fund. The Human Services Disbursing Fund was used 30 years ago to help deliver federal Medicaid payments in a timely manner, but the fund is currently being used as a slush fund, which makes transparency difficult. The bill passed committee and is due on the floor in the next few weeks.

My third bill to pass committee last week was HB 2429, which authorizes the State Election Board to conduct a data validation of Oklahoma’s voter registration database with other state and federal databases to confirm the citizenship status of a person. The bill will help ensure that only U.S. citizens vote in our elections, a needed measure, especially in the case of close elections. The bill passed the Rules Committee successfully.

On Wednesday evening last week, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed his first bill into law, House Bill 2597, which I’m proud was a bill I authored and fought hard for. This bill, now law, restores the Second Amendment rights of our law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm without government interference and goes into effect on Nov. 1.

This law does not do away with federal law, such as requiring a background check for firearm purchase. It also prohibits felons and people with mental illness or domestic violence convictions from carrying. This bill also upholds the rights of private property owners to decide for themselves whether to permit carry on their property. The state handgun license program will remain an option for people who want to carry their firearm while visiting other states.

Returning the constitutional rights of Oklahomans has been one of my priorities for several years, and I was pleased that Senators Kim David and Nathan Dahm supported the bill in the Senate. I’m glad to have a governor who understands the importance of upholding the U.S. Constitution in our state and realizes the importance of the Second Amendment to the citizens of Oklahoma.

As always, if you have questions, comments, or concerns, please reach out to my office. Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 36.

Rep. Sean Roberts, a Republican, serves District 36 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Osage and Tulsa Counties. He can be reached at 405-557-7322 or by email at sean.roberts@okhouse.gov.