OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Senate Bill 1458, a bill that would eliminate specific fines and fees that are currently charged to convicted individuals, is one step closer to becoming Oklahoma state law. It passed off the Senate floor Monday, March 15 with a 46-0 vote.
SB1458’s author, Senator Roger Thompson, R-District 8, said this bill has been in the works for a number of years and is a governor request bill. Sen. Thompson stated it was a collaborative effort to formulate the bill, with partnership from the governor’s office, Jari Askins and others.
“This is a collaborative effort and I appreciate the opportunity to stand before you and present this bill, but I’m simply standing on the shoulders of a number of people who’ve been working on this for a number of years,” said Sen. Thompson. “I believe this is true reform that can actually change lives.”
Sen. Thompson stated that some of the fines that are given to the convicted are currently used to fund state agencies. However, this system may not actually be achieving the goals it sets out to.
“I definitely believe someone who is convicted of breaking the law should be held accountable, but the current system of funding courts through fees can actually prevent individuals from turning their lives around,” said Sen. Thompson. “When they can’t pay, then the courts don’t get funded, warrants are issued, and people are arrested to get them to pay something they couldn’t afford in the first place. We need to help citizens obey the laws of the land without being overly burdensome.”
Sen. Thompson said if this bill becomes law, the fiscal impact for FY23 would be about $13-14 million. For FY24, about $26-28 million.
“As this works through the process, from the Senate to the House and back, it’s going to have to be a part of the appropriations,” said Sen. Thompson. “Many of these that are inside the bill, we do not intend to do away with funding those agencies.”
SB1458 will now move to the House for consideration.