Governor Fallin calls for chair of committee to release criminal justice reform bills

Gov. Mary Fallin. (KOKH/FILE)

Governor Fallin held an impromptu press conference Thursday calling for the chair of the House Judiciary - Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee to allow several criminal justice reform bills to move on.

Fallin reports that 10 criminal justice bills have been stuck in the committee by chair Rep. Scott Biggs.

"That is frankly unacceptable," Fallin said. "There are lives on the line and future generations of children that will be affected if we don't pass smart on crime criminal justice policies."

Fallin reports that conferees of the committee are not being allowed to sign bills so they can be released and put to a vote. In the past, Biggs has raised concerns that sex offenders would be released under the legislation. Fallin said those concerns had been addressed weeks ago.

"The public has spoken, they support smart-on-crime, tough-on-crime criminal justice policies." Fallin said. "I am pleading to Rep. Scott Biggs to please let the criminal justice bills go."

The governor says that if the bills are not heard the state will have to spend over $2 billion in the next 10 years and build another two to three prisons to house inmates.

House Speaker Charles McCall has given the committee until 4 p.m. Thursday to approve the bills. Fallin has also asked leadership to reassign the bills to a different committee.

Oklahomans For Criminal Justice Reform Chairman Kris Steele applauded Fallin's demands.

“If the House keeps bottling these bills up, taxpayers and the criminal justice system will be saddled with a $1.9 billion unfunded mandate neither can afford. These bills have overwhelming legislative and public support and deserve a vote,” Steele said in a statement.

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