Don’t Reverse Voters’ Will on Criminal Justice Reform: Oppose HB 1482

Click here for our fact sheet on HB 1482.

Last year Oklahomans voted by a large margin to approve SQ 780, which changed drug possession charges from felonies to misdemeanors punishable by no more than 1 year in jail. Voters also approved SQ 781 to direct the savings from reduced incarceration into county mental health and addiction treatment. Oklahoma voters’ choice aligns with plentiful research and experience showing felony charges and incarceration are costly and ineffective at dealing with the problems created by drug abuse and addiction, and reducing felony charges would save lives and free up resources to address the real problem.

HB 1482 would ignore the evidence and the will of the voters by reinstating felony charges for drug possession across virtually all of Oklahoma City and Tulsa and large parts of the rest of the state. The bill claims to be aimed at protecting children, but the expansive definition it uses for drug possession “near children” would effectively nullify SQ 780. It also ignores that a parent or caregiver facing felony charges and incarceration can often be far more damaging to a child’s well-being than taking a smarter approach to substance abuse.

What You Can Do

HB 1482 has been assigned to the Senate Public Safety committee. Contact Chairman Jack Fry and ask him not to hear HB 1482, and let the other committee members know why you oppose the bill.

  1. Sen. Jack Fry (Chair), (405)521-5584,
  2. Sen. Wayne Shaw (Vice Chair), (405)521-5574,
  3. Sen. Josh Brecheen, (405)521-5586,
  4. Sen. J.J. Dossett, (405)521-5566,
  5. Sen. Tom Dugger, (405)521-5572,
  6. Sen. Darcy Jech, (405)521-5545,
  7. Sen. Kevin Matthews, (405)521-5598,
  8. Sen. Greg McCortney, (405)521-5541,
  9. Sen. Lonnie Paxton, (405)521-5537,
  10. Sen. Roger Thompson, (405)521-5588,
  11. Sen. Ervin Yen, (405)521-5543,

You can also find your Senator here and tell him or her to vote NO on HB 1482.

Talking Points

HB 1482 makes drug possession a felony again across very large areas of cities and towns

  • HB 1482’s “enhancement zones” would make drug possession a felony within 1,000 feet (more than 2 city blocks) of every daycare, school, park, and church in Oklahoma. HB 1482 would result in drug possession being punished far more harshly in urban areas than in rural areas. [Update: An amendment to include only schools has been introduced, but the felony zones will still cover substantial portions of populated areas.]
  • Overlap of these zones means that drug possession would again become a felony across large parts of cities and towns, including nearly all of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, where the biggest majorities of voters were in favor of SQ 780.
  • The law will affect numerous people within homes that simply happen to be near a designated area.

HB 1482 unfairly targets mothers and caregivers

  • By including drug possession “in the presence of children,” HB 1482 will make Oklahoma’s female incarceration rates worse. Women whose only crime is drug possession still need treatment, not incarceration. Treatment is more effective than incarceration for protecting children and preventing recidivism.

HB 1482 is not needed to protect children

  • Possession with intent to distribute most controlled dangerous substances – including marijuana – is still a felony with a 2 year mandatory minimum sentence in Oklahoma. For other drugs, the mandatory minimum is 5 years in prison.
  • Research shows that less than 1 percent of drug dealing cases in enhancement zones involve minors.

HB 1482 contradicts the will of voters who approved SQ 780 by a strong majority in November.

  • SQ 780 passed by a 17-point margin in November. Oklahomans want a new approach to criminal justice that focuses on treatment for those with addiction and substance abuse issues, not incarceration.


Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

10 thoughts on “Don’t Reverse Voters’ Will on Criminal Justice Reform: Oppose HB 1482

  1. It is easy to email your local state rep from the webpage. Each legislator has an email contact button on their profile. Copy and paste your email into each different legislators message box. Make yourself heard. Email all of them. Give kudos to Representative Cory Williams for standing up against this bill in the Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee.

  2. Headline: “Oklahoma Faces Another Revenue Failure, Agencies To See Mid-Year Budget Cuts”.
    Headline: “Oklahoma DOC seeks $1.6B as inmate population soars”.
    Headline: “Rural Oklahoma schools feeling especially challenged by budget crunch”.

    This isn’t exactly rocket science. Approx $15000/year per offender to imprison. Stats from OKDOC A brief overview of all incarcerated offenders is as follows: 53% non violent, 47% violent, 89.5% male, 10.5% female.
    Time to correct our draconian laws regarding non violent offenders. AND for possession of a PLANT!!?? The laws are INSANE the innocent are taxed to support the guilty? For possession of a PLANT??? Oklahomas elected officials largely need to be voted OUT and the time is coming soon.

  3. This State government has consistantly proven its greed. It does everything it can to keep a man down while sucking the “taxable” financial life from them, all the while wallowing in the greatest debt it has ever created. Its time for change.

  4. Y’all, call them. Call them through the switchboard if you keep getting the voicemail. CAlling is immediate and impacts their ability to do business, and places the will of the people in primacy of operations.

    Thanks OKPolicy for all your wonderful work!

  5. Drug offenders belong in jail. Felony charges are correct.just who thought up this very bad bill in the first place.

  6. Sad to see that they’re switching the will of Oklahomans! And I also want to say that drug offenders need help, and to not be put in jail. If I can kick Meth (14 years clean!), anybody can. Thank you for reading.

  7. Who do these OK State congressmen think they are? When our people voted for this bill we expected it to be followed! You haven’t done a very good job of bringing our state budget In line with available tax receipts, but you want to put everyone in jail! News Flash! Prison only creates more criminals!!!

  8. I support the representative process. I do not fault state representatives, senators or governors for doing what they do. Even when they walk on my values, exploit the poor, steal from children, rob the elderly, ignore the disabled, and punish others for the same things they do, they are just working the American Dream into their vision. Corporate greed and wealth does not have more power than all of us. There are more of us than them. We have to assert the will of the people and VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE. Now is the time for pushing back. WE HAVE TO FIGHT.

  9. Sorry, but voted against.
    No reason for drugs to be so prevalent.
    Reducing penalilties is an enabler for more to enter into a lucrative illegal business.
    Your next step will be to legalize drugs.
    Reduce penalties.
    Enabling more with lesser fear.
    Legslization as more into drugs providing more voters.
    More crime and people will say, wonder what caused this to happen?
    No thanks.
    Just put all these responsable people to work on chain gangs cleaning up the roadside, hard work never hurt anybody.

  10. To those of you who voted against… does that make it okay in your eyes that our legislators go against the majority of Oklahomans who voted for this reform? The point here is NOT the law. Whether you agree or disagree, the problem is that OKC completely ignores us and does whatever they please. Why even bother to vote if our decisions are reversed every time our all-knowing legislators decide we were too stupid to understand what we were voting for?

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