The Oklahoma House of Representatives got in one last transgender bill on Thursday, its last chance to consider its own legislation before sending it to the Senate.
Titled the “Women’s Bill of Rights,” House Bill 1449, by Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin, essentially says transgender women and girls are not women and girls as far as the state of Oklahoma is concerned.
“House Bill 1449 provides clarity in our laws as it pertains to biological men and women for the purpose of government work,” said Hasenbeck.
Hasenbeck, who led last year’s charge against trans athletes, explained HB 1449, in part, by saying it is intended to keep transgender women out of women’s prisons because of safety risks to other inmates.
It was a little much for Rep. Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater.
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“A female inmate is more at risk of sexual assault from a person who identifies as male staff at the prison than from someone who identifies as trans,” Ranson said.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections policies include a fairly complex procedure for assessing gender non-conforming inmates and deciding placement of them. Placement solely on an inmate’s self-identification is forbidden.
Gender non-conforming inmates are identified as more at risk for abuse than the general population, according to the DOC policy manual.
“Trans individuals are not a threat to my gender identity,” said Ranson. “Trans individuals are not a threat to my rights as an Oklahoman, as a U.S. citizen, as a global citizen or as a woman. Trans individuals are not even a threat to my safety.”
Rep. Mauree Turner, D-Oklahoma City, the only legislator identifying as non-binary, called HB 1449 and other bills like it “a grotesque misuse of public office.”
Hasenbeck, though, said she was protecting “women who do not consent to gender redefining terms.”
Questioned by Turner, Hasenbeck said, “The whole bill says women do not wish to have their rights taken away so that the rights of others may be expanded. This has to do with all of the places were men and women are equal yet different.”
The House passed yet another tax cut measure submitted by Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka.
HB 1953 puts forward a single flat tax rate of 4.25%, beginning next year, on all income over $9,750 for single filers, $16,250 for heads of households or $19,450 for joint filers.
The 4.25% rate would have to be renewed in two years or it will automatically rise to 4.75%.
Estimated foregone revenue is $426 million when the change is fully implemented.
The House has sent four major tax cut proposals to the Senate, three by McCall.
Relevant in light of recent reports on homelessness in Tulsa, HB 2040, by Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa, raises from $4 million to $10 million the annual cap on a state tax credit for construction of low income housing.
HB 2040 passed 67-25 after Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, signed on as a co-sponsor.
Also winning approval was HB 1633, by Rep. Clay Staires, R-Skiatook, which would require acceptance of cash for essentials such as food, fuel and housing.
Staires said his intention is to make sure people who don’t want or can’t get credit or debit cards aren’t prevented from obtaining necessities.
For the second day in a row, the House turned down a proposal to tinker with the dates of school board and other local elections.
The House begins committee work on Senate bills next week.