Although the Oklahoma Legislature took their Spring Break from March 18-March 22, last week was back to business, and back to committee hearings in the opposite chamber.

House Bills

An important carryover bill from last year made it through Senate Judiciary last week. House Bill (HB) 1629 by Rep. Regina Goodwin (HD 73, Tulsa) and Sen. George Young (SD 48, OKC) looks to clarify voter re-enfranchisement for persons who have been convicted of a felony. It would clarify eligibility following discharge, commutation, pardon, or crime reclassification. It was passed unanimously by the committee.

HB 3499, by Rep. Tammy West (HD 84, Bethany) and Sen. Dave Rader (HD 39, Tulsa) which seeks to create an “Affordable Housing Tax Credit Program” also passed through committee successfully. The conversation on the bill focused on helping formerly incarcerated get back on their feet and reducing recidivism. The title was struck to continue conversations and focus on the language.

HB 2946, Rep. Steve Bashore (HD 7, Miami) and Sen. Paul Rosino (SD 45, OKC) which has caused some stir in debates before, was heard in Senate Judiciary last week. This bill seeks to add accessory to murder as an 85% crime. The basis of the bill comes from a high-profile case that happened in Craig County in 1999. Two girls were reportedly kidnapped, raped, tortured, and killed and their bodies were never found. The co-author of the bill has said the accomplice in the case served less than a year of his sentence.

Sen. Michael Brooks (SD 44, OKC), who also serves as a criminal defense attorney, raised several questions about the bill. Some of the biggest concerns raised against the bill are that situations like this should be handled on a case-by-case basis, not set in statute. There were concerns that this law would disregard the current process by which defendants are sentenced. It passed with 7 ayes and 3 nays.


Senate Bills

A good bill made its way through House Judiciary – Civil Committee last week. It also previously passed unanimously off the Senate floor: Senate Bill (SB) 1470 by Sen. Greg Treat (SD 47, OKC) and Rep. Jon Echols (HD 80, OKC). Referred to as the “Oklahoma Survivors Act”, this bill would direct courts to consider certain mitigating factors for survivors of domestic abuse who are found guilty of crimes. This bill would also operate retroactively, so many people currently serving sentences have the possibility of being released. Many people, particularly women, are currently serving time for crimes committed against their abusers, but courts currently cannot consider domestic abuse as a mitigating factor. This bill would allow survivors of domestic violence to qualify for a lower range of sentences if evidence of abuse is presented and substantiated. SB 1470 passed unanimously out of committee. The next step is to be heard on the House floor. You can read more about this effort here:

SB 1711 by Sen. Brent Howard (SD 38, Altus) and Rep. Rande Worthen (HD 64, Lawton), another positive bill in the realm of criminal justice reform, also passed out of committee. It would permit the use of videoconferencing technology for district courts for individuals who are being held in custody in a different county, helping people return to their lives instead of being held indefinitely without a conviction.

By Sen. Todd Gollihare (SD 12, Kellyville) and Rep. Jeff Boatman (HD 67, Tulsa), SB 1740 would provide civil liability protections for emergency responders administering emergency opioid antagonists such as Narcan. Last year, Oklahoma opened the usage of Narcan and other antagonists to help prevent overdoses.

SB 1660 looks to allow search warrants to also be used to search for people who have received an arrest warrant. This would allow search warrants to permit entry, search, and seizure of a person with an arrest warrant outstanding. The bill received no votes from Sen. George Young (SD 48, OKC) and Rep. Jason Lowe (HD 97, OKC) during the process, but it did pass House Judiciary – Criminal last week.


This next week, many of our key bills we have been tracking are getting scheduled. Stay up-to-date and call your representative to see where they stand on key votes!