Tuesday, March 15, 2022

State Senate passes bill to move court funding from fines and fees to annual appropriation

Senate approves bill to move court funding from fees to annual appropriation

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson has won full Senate approval for a bill aimed at moving district court funding from fees to appropriated funding through the Legislature.  Senate Bill 1458 would eliminate a slate of fines and fees currently charged upon conviction.

Thompson, R-Okemah, said the objective of the bill is to take the weight of funding the court system off of the people who are being fined and instead provide resources through the appropriations process.

“I definitely believe someone who is convicted of breaking the law should be held accountable, but the current system of funding courts through fees can actually prevent individuals from turning their lives around,” Thompson said.  “When they can’t pay, then the courts don’t get funded, warrants are issued, and people are arrested to get them to pay something they couldn’t afford in the first place.  We need to help citizens obey the laws of the land without being overly burdensome.”

The fees listed in SB 1458 currently provide funds for programs administered by various state agencies, a portion of which goes to the courts.  Thompson said beginning January 1, 2023, those fees would be eliminated, and the funding would be provided to the courts and other entities through state appropriations.

SB 1458 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.


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