Public Safety Improvements

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Protecting the lives of Oklahomans is a core service of state government. As a member of both the House Public Safety Committee and House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety, I paid close attention to several public safety bills that I am proud to say were signed by Gov. Mary Fallin.

Oklahoma’s corrections system plays a key role in addressing public safety. We modeled legislation on successful reforms made to the Texas corrections system. House Bill 2131 expands community sentencing programs, modifies the governor’s role in the parole process for nonviolent offenders and establishes requirements for members of the Pardon and Parole Board. The reforms will reduce costs to taxpayers and are intended to increase the successful rehabilitation of nonviolent offenders.

Roads are among the most dangerous places for Oklahomans. House Bill 1319 closes a number of loopholes that have allowed individuals to repeatedly drive under the influence while being treated as first-time offenders. The legislation also increases the minimum penalties for second and subsequent aggravated DUIs (0.15 blood alcohol level or greater) and for persons convicted of DUI after a previous conviction of second-degree murder or first-degree manslaughter as a result of driving under the influence.

The abuse of alcohol by minors has increased. House Bill 1211 strengthens the penalties for social hosts who knowingly and willingly permit those under 21 years of age to consume alcohol during social events taking place on their premises. Under the legislation, a first violation of Oklahoma’s social host law would result in a misdemeanor and fine of up to $500. A second violation would result in a fine of up to $1,000. Further violations could result in a fine of up to $2,500 or incarceration for up to five years. If a bodily injury or death occurred, the social host could face a fine of between $2,500 and $5,000 and up to five years of incarceration. The legislation would also allow cities to enforce current laws regarding low-point beer sales in the same way they currently enforce liquor laws.

House Bill 1439 expands the right to use deadly force when in fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm. Current law allows individuals to use deadly force only in their homes; HB 1449 expands that right to include their place of business. The bill takes effect on November 1.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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