Rep. Hefner Champions Safety for Vulnerable Communities with Two Landmark Bills

Ponca City Now - March 21, 2024 5:53 am

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Ellyn Hefner, D-Oklahoma City, spearheaded significant legislative strides in safeguarding Oklahoma’s vulnerable communities with the passage of two pivotal bills through the House Floor. These legislative measures respond to pressing concerns within the disability community, particularly in the wake of alarming allegations of abuse towards patients with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses at a prominent facility in Enid.

HB 3797 marks a pivotal step toward ensuring the protection of our state’s most vulnerable individuals by mandating the notification of the Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Oklahoma’s Protection and Advocacy System, whenever reports of abuse or neglect emerge. Hefner emphasized the importance of streamlining information flow across agencies, asserting, “When abuse occurs, reports may be dispersed across multiple agencies, hindering effective response efforts. This bill facilitates comprehensive monitoring and tracking of reports, ultimately safeguarding families and ensuring the well-being of their loved ones.”

Meanwhile, HB 3793 addresses the critical need for age-appropriate and secure environments to facilitate the effective treatment of children and adolescents. This legislation mandates that facilities catering to this demographic are tailored to meet their safety and developmental requirements. Hefner underscored the significance of these provisions, stating, “Establishing age-appropriate and secure environments is fundamental for delivering effective treatment. These facilities must cater to the safety and developmental needs of younger individuals, offering age-appropriate activities and supervision. Segregating children and adults also serves to mitigate potential risks of abuse.”

Both bills have cleared the House and are poised to advance to the Senate, with HB 3797’s Senate author being Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, and HB 3793’s Senate author being Senator Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan.

With these legislative initiatives, Hefner demonstrates unwavering commitment to championing the rights and safety of Oklahoma’s vulnerable communities, laying the groundwork for a more inclusive and protective environment for all.


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