Chaplains In Oklahoma Schools? Shucked Bill Passes Out Of Senate Committee

A bill that would allow chaplains to be employed in Oklahoma public schools is one step closer to becoming law. The legislation was changed at the last minute before Tuesday’s general government committee, a move that House democrats say undermines the transparency of the legislative process. 

Tuesday, April 9th 2024, 5:07 pm



-

A bill that would allow chaplains to be employed in Oklahoma public schools is one step closer to becoming law. The legislation was changed at the last minute before Tuesday’s general government committee, a move that House Democrats say undermines the transparency of the legislative process. 

Senate Bill 36 was originally written as legislation to require law enforcement to have body camera and drone footage as public record.

On Monday afternoon, Rep. Kevin West (R-Moore), Chairman of House General Government, added an amendment to SB36 that shucked the bill. Shucking, according to Metriarch.org, is when the language of a bill is removed and replaced with new language, "often legislating a new idea or proposal."

“To completely shuck a bill with a new title of law and a completely different subject at the very last minute during deadline week, not unusual unfortunately, but I do think inappropriate and not completely fair in building trust with the public,” said Minority Leader Cyndi Munson (D-Oklahoma City).

Shucking bills is a common occurrence during deadline weeks at the state Capitol.

SB36 is now written to allow public schools to employ volunteer or full-time chaplains. West says he’s hoping this would help with the shortage of counselors in Oklahoma schools. 

“I think we would all agree that schools are in need of assistance with counseling, and this is an area where they could get volunteers and or hire a chaplain,” said West.

The legislation would allow each school board to set the exact parameters for the chaplains training, requirements or employment.

“We have chaplains from many, many different religious backgrounds that are not benefiting one religion over another,” said Rep. West.

Democrats debated the bill in committee for a number of reasons, one of the arguments from Rep. Jared Deck (D-Norman) who called the legislation vague.

“We're talking about no training outside of a few hours in an online course to become a chaplain. We're talking about absolutely no definition of a chaplain or what they could be certified in or trained in,” said Deck.

Munson says this is not where public dollars should be going.

“My concern has to do with using public dollars for religious purposes, which is clearly unconstitutional,” said Munson.

West pushed back on that argument.

“Were not evangelizing while we're doing this, so I don't think this would run afoul of our constitution,” said West.

With the last minute changes, Munson says the bill needs more work before it moves forward.

“Unfortunately we haven't been honest about this entire process and getting this language into this bill today, so I think you all should consider that and vote no on Senate Bill 36,” said West.

The bill passed out of committee with only two no votes from Munson and Deck, and will now move to the House floor for consideration.

logo

Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News on 6 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

April 9th, 2024

June 16th, 2024

June 16th, 2024

June 16th, 2024

Top Headlines

June 16th, 2024

June 16th, 2024

June 16th, 2024

June 16th, 2024