Busy weeks ahead personally, at Capitol

by Jessica Garvin

The next few weeks will be extremely busy for my family and me. I’m preparing for the legislative session; the start of our son’s basketball season; getting back into the groove of school; and our daughter, Kollins, made “Company” at Heartbeat Dance Studio in Duncan this year so this spring will be my first official competition season as a dance mom. Interesting side note, some of my least favorite memories of high school include my cheerleading coach’s frequent disapproval of my inability to put on “performance makeup.” I’ve never been a girly-girl, so this should be interesting. Along with the pressure of improving my makeup skills, I’m also having to give myself the daily “don’t yell at your son during games because it embarrasses him” talk and will be working on getting the rest of my bills filed before January 20.

I wanted to give a quick look at a few more of the bills I’m filing this session that will make a positive impact on our state. First, I have a bill to close a loophole regarding juvenile sex offenders. Because their records are sealed, this information is not currently disclosed to the public unless the offender transfers from the juvenile sex offender registry to the adult registry. However, although Oklahoma has a juvenile registry, there are no offenders listed on it due to the difficulty our district attorneys have getting an offender on the list. I have taken a look at the statutes about the placement of someone onto the juvenile sex offender registry and will be addressing the problems DA’s have getting offenders registered. 

The proposed changes I’m making would help protect our most vulnerable populations by requiring juvenile offenders to disclose any convicted criminal history for a sex crime to any entity that cares for children and vulnerable adults, such as day cares, schools, nursing homes, or adult day care facilities.

Another issue I’m extremely passionate about tackling this session is the outdated way we care for Oklahomans with intellectual disabilities.

For years, we have treated these individuals like nursing home residents, even licensing ICF/IID facilities (Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities) as nursing homes. I’m proposing legislation that would move these facilities out of the Nursing Home Care Act and create a new section of law, requiring the Oklahoma State Department of Health to create rules to oversee these facilities in a way more in-line with national standards, such as hiring staff with specialized training and ensuring facilities are focused on “active treatment” with their residents.

Active treatment, in this care setting, is the process of helping individuals with disabilities learn to be as independent as possible. Examples of active treatment include teaching individuals to balance their own money, prepare meals, and for those who are able, secure and hold down a job.

Working on economic development has been one of my main focuses. This session, I have a bill that would require state agencies to give preferential treatment to Oklahoma-based businesses during the state contract bidding process.

We do so much to encourage new businesses to form in our state, or for out-of-state companies to move into Oklahoma. However, I feel as if we often forget about the companies who are already doing business here, employing our friends and neighbors, and creating revenue streams in our communities.

This bill will focus on improving the application process, ensuring that Oklahoma-based businesses have a higher probability of being awarded state contracts than out-of-state businesses. 

If you have any questions or concerns on legislative matters, please contact me at the Capitol. Please write to Senator Jessica Garvin, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 237, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at Jessica.Garvin@oksenate.gov or call (405) 521-5522.

Comanche Times
United for Oklahoma - September