The Oklahoma Legislature passed hundreds of new laws this year. More than 215 take effect this week. (Photo by Kyle Phillips/For Oklahoma Voice)
OKLAHOMA CITY — More than 215 new state laws take effect Wednesday that impact everything from state employee benefits and jury pay to oversight of medical marijuana grows and missing persons.
The Oklahoma Legislature passed a slew of new laws this year. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.
Paid maternity leaveState employees will now be eligible to receive maternity leave. Full-time employees who have worked for the state for more than two years can request up to six weeks of paid maternity leave following the birth or adoption of their child.
The GOP-led Legislature also approved six weeks of paid maternity leave for teachers who have worked for a public school district for at least one year.
Juror payDaily pay for jurors will increase from $20 to $50, marking the first pay hike in more than two decades.
Oklahoma juror pay at county courthouses will be tied with North Dakota for the highest in the nation, according to a 2022 report from the National Center for State Courts.
Alerts for missing adultsThe Department of Public Safety will develop a statewide alert system for missing adults between ages 18 and 59 who appear to have been abducted.
The Kasey Alert system is named after a Cherokee Nation citizen who went missing in 2016 while walking home from a casino.
The state already issues Silver Alerts for missing adults age 60 or older and Amber Alerts for missing children.
Notifications about escaped inmatesThe Oklahoma Department of Corrections will now issue Orange Alerts when an inmate escapes from a prison. Oklahomans can opt in to receive alerts by texting a facility-specific code to 77295. The code for each prison can be found on the agency’s website.
Medical marijuanaIn an effort to crack down on illegal medical marijuana grows, a new law prohibits people who are not residents of the U.S. from owning land in the state either directly or indirectly through a business entity or trust.
Oklahoma already bans noncitizens from owning land, but this new law takes the prohibition a step further by requiring buyers to submit a signed affidavit attesting a piece of property is being lawfully obtained before a county clerk can record any deed.
A separate measure allows the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to permanently revoke licenses of businesses that fail to pay their taxes. That law also makes it illegal for marijuana growers to knowingly hire undocumented immigrants, allows enforcement entities to make unannounced visits at grow operations and limits one grow license per piece of property.
Addressing food insecurityA new law largely shields restaurants and school cafeterias from the threat of civil lawsuits for donating prepared food.
An eatery could only be sued if it negligently or willfully donates spoiled food to a food pantry, homeless shelter or other entity.
Expanding social servicesPregnant Oklahomans who do not already have children will now be eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits that help low-income families. Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Helping Every Life and Parent Task Force suggested the change to better help women navigate crisis pregnancies.
Mixed drinksA new law legalizes cocktail tasting flights, or small pours of up to four different cocktails or mixed drinks served to a single patron.
Election changesCounty court clerks will be required to prepare monthly reports of Oklahomans who were excused from jury duty because they are not U.S. citizens. County election board secretaries will then cancel the voter registration of any registered voters on the list.
Another new law prohibits people from offering election officials contributions or anything of value in exchange for administering elections.
School board electionsSchool districts that call for a bond election will be required to post on their website at least 30 days out from the election a copy of the bond proposal, including all planned projects. If voters approve the proposal, the district must keep the bond information on its website and update it if there are any material changes to the scope of the projects.
Vehicle registrationOklahomans will now be able to renew their vehicle registration every two years instead of every year.
Preventing opioid overdosesThe Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will be tasked with providing drugs that can reverse an opioid overdose, such as Naloxone, to hospitals, prisons and county jails. Those drugs will be given to discharged patients and inmates. The department will also create an opioid education program to educate inmates on how to prevent overdoses.
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