OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. and House Majority Caucus Whip Tammy West, R-Oklahoma City, passed three bills in the House on Monday that would enhance the lives of Oklahomans from students, to adults in assisted living facilities as well as victims of crime.
“This trio of bills, I believe, will improve the lives of Oklahomans from some of our youngest to some of our most vulnerable,” West said. “I’m attempting to look at society as a whole and at areas where sometimes even small changes can result in a much better quality of life for all.”
House Bill 1875 would prohibit the release or sale of student directory information. West said the bill strengthens and clarifies the language in statute, removing all doubt of how student information is to be protected and kept private. This will help keep students safe from potential predators, she said. She worked with both the Oklahoma Press Association and the State Dept. of Education to draft the legislation.
The measure passed unanimously with a vote of 92-0. It now advances to the state Senate for consideration where it is authored by Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City.
House Bill 1877 requires a resident of an assisted living facility, who is categorized as needing medical assistance and has been prescribed an antipsychotic medication, to be monitored quarterly for adverse effects and that they or their representative remain informed of their condition. It also requires staff to be trained to be aware of the side effects of antipsychotic use. This bill is supported by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Oklahoma, Oklahoma Assisted Living Association (OKALA), Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma, LeadingAge Oklahoma, Oklahoma Aging Partnership, Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature and the State Long-term Care Ombudsman.
West passed legislation two years ago that tackled this issue in nursing homes. She said the state has seen a significant decrease in the misuse of antipsychotic drugs in those facilities since the bill became law.
“I believe this bill will help in assisted living facilities as well, by monitoring for adverse effects and ensuring the families of residents remain fully informed of the treatments being utilized,” West said.
The legislation passed with a vote of 91-1. It is authored in the Senate by Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City.
House Bill 1880 authorizes the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council (DAC) to create a Restorative Justice pilot program. The program would use deferred prosecution agreements to divert offenders away from traditional criminal court.
The program is victim-centered and requires the consent of a victim to refer a case to the program. Trained citizen-led mediation panels come up with a plan for what the offender can do to repair the harm caused by the crime and works with the victim and offender to find solutions. An offender’s plan could range from an apology, to repayment or replacement of a stolen item, or other recommendations aimed at repairing the harm to the victim and giving the offender the chance to make it right.
There is no request for appropriations to implement the pilot program. West said the DAC has agreed to look for grant funding, and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Administrative Office of the Courts Alternative Dispute Resolution Program have both agreed to provide support.
“This could result in true meaningful criminal justice reform that restores both the victim of crimes as well as those who commit such crimes,” West said. “This benefits the entire community.”
The measure passed with a vote of 89-1. It is authored in the Senate by Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher.