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Conventional Thinking: Legislation watch

As activity at the Oklahoma Legislature continues to advance toward the finish line in May, here are a handful of bills that people of faith should be aware of and pray about:

/// Free exercise of religion in Oklahoma

HJR (House Joint Resolution) 1062 by Reps. Randy Grau and John Paul Jordan would repeal the Blaine Amendment in the Oklahoma Constitution. The Blaine Amendment disadvantages religious organizations from participating in government activities like education and social services. HJR 1062 would allow the people of Oklahoma to vote in the upcoming November election to repeal the Blaine Amendment.

/// Protection for faith-based child welfare agencies

HB 2428 by Rep. Sally Kern and Sen. Josh Brecheen, the “Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act of 2016,” allows protections for faith-based child welfare providers, including those providing adoption and foster care services, from being forced to provide services that violate the organizations faith-based beliefs.

/// Upholding natural marriage in Oklahoma

HR (House Resolution) 1032 by Rep. David Brumbaugh affirms that the policy of the State of Oklahoma supports natural marriage as recognized by the people of Oklahoma by public vote as stated in the Oklahoma Constitution. Declares further that natural marriage, between one man and one woman, shall be upheld in Oklahoma regardless of any court decision to the contrary.

/// Pro-Life education information for high school students

HB 2797 by Rep. Ann Coody and Sen. A.J. Griffin, the “Humanity of the Unborn Child Act,” allows a public education effort in high schools to educate students about the humanity and development of a pre-born child. The public education effort will also include information related to agencies that can assist women through their pregnancy. Additionally, the bill declares that as a state, Oklahoma favors childbirth over abortion.

/// Protecting babies in the womb with genetic abnormalities

HB 3128 by Rep. Josh Cockcroft and Sen. Greg Treat, the “Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2016” explicitly bans abortions when a mother has been diagnosed with either Down syndrome or a potential for Down syndrome or other genetic abnormality. Recent studies demonstrate that as many as 90 percent of pre-born children diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted.

/// Honoring Oklahoma
Pregnancy Resource Centers

By Rep. Pam Peterson, this resolution honors and celebrates the heroes at Oklahoma’s 45 Pregnancy Resource Centers that daily provide compassionate care to mothers debating what to do about their crisis pregnancy. Pro-life supporters are encouraged to embrace their Pregnancy Resource Center in their community and celebrate their service on Oklahoma Pregnancy Resource Center Day on Jan. 23, 2017.   

/// Fighting human trafficking

HB 2425 by Rep. Kern and Sen. A.J. Griffin would raises the age for the criminal offense of child prostitution from the current age of 16 to 18 providing new protection from human trafficking for Oklahoma’s 16 – and 17-year-olds.

HB 2424 by Rep. Kern and Sen. Nathan Dahm eliminates the statute of limitations for human trafficking victims to bring a civil lawsuit against their trafficking perpetrators. Also, eliminates the statute of limitations for prosecutors to file a criminal prosecution.

While there are other noteworthy and important pieces of legislation under consideration, includes ones relating to abortion, education, marriage and more, these bills have specific implications important to voters of faith.

Editor’s Note: Research and writing support were made possible by the Family Policy Institute of Oklahoma.

Brian Hobbs

Author: Brian Hobbs

Brian is editor of The Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Brian Hobbs.

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