With the 2020 U.S. Census completed, the population data will be used to guide legislators as we set about a very important task—redrawing the boundaries for legislative and congressional districts. By law, every district must include as close to the same number of people as possible.
In 2010, Oklahoma’s population was just over 3.7 million. The projection for 2020 is that we’ll have a population of about 4 million. But while some communities may have grown a lot, others may have grown at a slower rate, and other areas may have seen populations decline. Because of that, we are tasked every 10 years with using the most recent census information to redraw those boundaries to keep the population within districts as even as possible.
The Senate and the House are committed to making the redistricting process as open and transparent as possible and have announced a series of public hearings in the next few weeks so that Oklahomans throughout the state will have an opportunity to hear about how the redistricting process works, ask questions and give their input. A complete schedule of all the town meetings can be found here: https://oksenate.gov/press-releases/oklahoma-senate-house-announce-statewide-redistricting-meeting-dates?back=/press-releases.
This past week, we were able to begin filing bills for the upcoming legislative session. One of my bills was the very first filed in the Senate this year. SB 1, which cracks down on scrap metal theft, is named the Sergeant Craig Johnson Oklahoma Scrap Metal Dealers Act. Sgt. Johnson worked with us on this bill when we were drafting it—he even came to visit me in Perry. He was killed after being shot during a traffic stop in Tulsa last June.
I’d actually introduced this bill for the 2020 session and it had overwhelming support in the Senate, but because the Capitol was shut down for several weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the clock simply ran out on many bills before they could make it through the process. I’m so glad I was able to reintroduce this legislation and name it for a true Oklahoma hero who played an important part in putting the bill together.
I think we’re going to see several bills this session to support law enforcement officers in Oklahoma, including legislation to prevent the practice of doxing officers. If you aren’t familiar with the practice, that’s when someone uploads personal information about an individual to the internet—their name, home address, phone numbers, even the names of their spouse and children. This can endanger the lives of not only law officers, but their families as well. They work tirelessly to protect their fellow citizens—we need to ensure our laws protect them as well.
In closing, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to express how grateful I am for the opportunity to serve Senate District 20 at the state Capitol. It is a privilege I never take for granted. From my family to yours, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.
Please feel free to contact my Capitol office with any questions or concerns you may have about legislation or other issues impacting our state at 405.521.5628 or at Chuck.Hall@oksenate.gov.