Senate Passes Stephen Bernius Memorial Act to Broaden Protective Orders in Oklahoma
KTUL-News 8 - April 20, 2022 10:24 pm
TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — A bill to broaden protective orders in Oklahoma unanimously passed the Senate on Tuesday.
The Stephen Bernius Memorial Act will broaden who an individual can get a protective order against in Oklahoma.
The bill was introduced after News Channel 8 did a story on Broken Arrow man Stephen Bernuis, who was denied a protective order against his tenant, and then killed by him two days later in September 2021.
The bill redefines the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act and Domestic Abuse Reporting Act to include persons not related by blood or marriage living in the same household.
The way protective orders worked before, they were only applicable to intimate partners or family members living in the same residence.
Senator Darrell Weaver is the Senate principal author of the act.
“It’s important for laws to be specific, but in the case of Stephen Bernius, the language was too narrow. He had a renter in his home and the situation had gotten so bad, he sought a protective order,” said Senator Darrell Weaver, the Senate principal author of the act. “A judge ruled under current law, Stephen couldn’t get a protective order because even though they were living in the same household, they weren’t related by either blood or marriage. Stephen was murdered just a couple of days later. HB 4374 will help us make sure others in similar situations will be able to get protective orders, even if they aren’t related.”