House reps vote to overturn the will of the people. 

A bill reinstating felony-level laws for drug possession near schools earned enough votes in the Oklahoma House to pass, despite vigorous opposition from criminal justice reformers.

House Bill 1482 was heavily amended from its original version to earn enough support to pass the House, where it got just enough votes Thursday to move on to the Senate. The original bill would have allowed prosecutors to charge people with a felony if found with drugs near schools, parks, churches and other public gathering places.

The amendments, however, limited the bill’s scope to only school zones.

In November, Oklahomans voted to downgrade virtually all drug possession cases into misdemeanors. The criminal justice reformers who voted against House Bill 1482 said the people spoke clearly about what they wanted. Supporters of the bill, however, said voters weren’t capable of understanding the issues nor researching the State questions. 

“It’s not overturning the will of the people, because the people did not get a chance to vote on it,” said state Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville.

Thirty-eight lawmakers voted against it, both Democratic and Republican members of the House.

Another opponent of the bill, state Rep. Emily Virgin, said voters realized there is a problem with over-incarceration in prisons.

“They recognized that families are being torn apart and kids are going into the foster system because of our draconian drug laws in Oklahoma,” said Virgin, D-Norman. “We know what rips families apart. It’s not simple possession of marijuana; it’s a parent going to prison for five years.”

 Below is how the voting went.


    HOUSE BILL 1482     Drugs; making certain acts unlawful; effective         

    Biggs               date; emergency.                                        


    THIRD READING       PASSED                                                 


         YEAS:   51                                                    RCS#  188

         NAYS:   38                                                    3/09/2017

         EXC :   10                                                      2:15 PM

         C/P :    0                                                            

         VAC :    2                                                             

    YEAS:   51

    Babinec            Hilbert            Nollan             Tadlock           

    Baker              Humphrey           O’Donnell          Teague            

    Bennett (J)        Jordan             Ortega             Vaughan            

    Biggs              Kannady            Osborn (L)         Wallace           

    Brumbaugh          Loring             Osburn (M)         Watson            

    Cleveland          Martinez           Ownbey             West (J)          

    Cockroft           McBride            Park               West (K)          

    Coody              McDaniel           Perryman           West (R)          

    Downing            McDugle            Pfeiffer           West (T)          

    Enns               McEntire           Roberts (D)        Worthen           

    Faught             Murdock            Roberts (S)        Wright            

    Gann               Murphey            Rogers             Mr.Speaker        

    Hardin             Newton             Sanders           

    NAYS:   38

    Bennett (F)        Fetgatter          Lawson             Nichols           

    Blancett           Ford               Lepak              Proctor           

    Bush               Goodwin            Lowe               Sears             

    Caldwell           Griffith           Martin             Stone             

    Calvey             Hall               McEachin           Virgin            

    Casey              Henke              Meredith           Walke             

    Condit             Hoskin             Montgomery         Williams          

    Dollens            Inman              Moore              Young             

    Dunnington         Kerbs              Mulready          

    Echols             Kouplen            Munson            

    EXCUSED:   10

    Cannaday           Fourkiller         Ritze              Thomsen           

    Derby              Frix               Russ              

    Dunlap             Renegar            Strohm            




    VACANT:    2

Scroll to Top