Press Release

March 12, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY – In the last two days, the Oklahoma House of Representatives has passed four bills that are not only unnecessary, but are in effect an assault on Oklahomans’ civil liberties.

Wednesday started with House Bill 1037, introduced by District 23 Representative Sue Tibbs. This bill is also known as the Voter ID Bill, and will require voters to present a government-issued photo ID before voting.

This bill will disenfranchise women, minorities, elderly, disabled, homeless, and veteran Oklahomans. Voting is a fundamental right, and charging individuals to vote is an illegal poll tax. HB 1037 passed down party lines, 59-39.

“If election reform is going to have any integrity, it must be bi-partisan,” said Tamya Cox, American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Program Director and Legislative Counsel. “It should include same day registration and opening the polls earlier.

“This bill had none of this. Its only purpose was to create obstacles for people to vote.”

Over 78,000 Oklahomans do not have an ID card, and many that do will still be unable to vote because their driver’s license has expired. If HB 1037 passes in the Senate, those without a voter ID card, or those that don’t want to show it, will have to vote by provisional ballot. Over 80 percent of the November election provisional ballots were rejected.

The rough day continued with the passage of House Joint Resolution 1042, the “English Only” bill, authored by District 53 Rep. Randy Terrill. HJR 1042 would require all government communications to be in English, with few exceptions. The bill contains extremely divisive language, and passed by a vote of 66-32.

The last bill to pass through the House on Wednesday evening was HB 1330, which would erect a Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds. District 80 Rep. Mike Ritze is responsible for HB 1330, and if the constitutionality of the monument were to be challenged, state taxpayers would have to fund litigation and fee awards. A state agency would also have to oversee installation and upkeep. HB 1330 is similar to McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, where the Supreme Court held that the Ten Commandments display was unconstitutional and violated the Establishment Clause.

HJR 1009, the Resolution to Oppose Federal Freedom of Choice Act, by District 84 Rep. Sally Kern passed today with a vote of 77-12. Kern has introduced a complete waste of time and money with HJR 1009. The Freedom of Choice Act is not pending in Congress. This irrelevant resolution has no legal weight and is only an attempt of the legislature to distract Oklahomans from real issues.

“We hope the Senate will do a better job of protecting the civil liberties of Oklahomans and refuse to hear these bills or add liberty protections,” Cox said.