House Bill 1482 in the Oklahoma Legislature is designed to override a vote of the people last November that reduced the classification of many drug possession charges to misdemeanors. The ballot measure was intended to reduce the burden on county jails and the judicial system and to send the savings to mental health and rehab treatment centers.
HB 1482 seeks to reclassify many drug possession offenses as felonies.
State Rep. Avery Frix, elected in November, made a point of not voting for the bill.
“Anytime you go against the will of the people, that’s bad,” he said. “Because it only requires 51 Yes votes to pass, not voting is the equivalent of a No vote.”
The bill passed anyway, 51 to 38 with 10 abstaining. It now goes to the Senate.
State Rep. George Faught voted for the bill.
UPDATE: Rep. George Faught said the following regarding his Yes vote:
What happened with the passage of SQ780 was after the AG wrote the language for the question the State was sued by Rep. George Young and Kris Steele to rewrite the language and the Judges rewrote the language cancelling out the protection for drug-free school zones. This made possession of drugs in those areas only a misdemeanor
There were 63 penalties that were downgraded from felony to misdemeanors and effectively did away with drug-free zones around schools. The legislation contained in HB1482 is intended to correct only one of the 63 categories thus re-establishing a drug free school zone. There were exclusions for no traffic stops in a school zone and made sure the charge to a student in violation of the drug free zone “may” not “shall” be charged and the charge would be a misdemeanor. Should a minor be convicted of a felony drug charge once they turn 18 they would adjudicated and that would be removed from their record.