Looking out for the elderly

by Jessica Garvin

As we get closer to Thursday’s bill filing deadline, I’d like to share another measure I’ve introduced.  SB 1163 would help our state better address elderly and vulnerable adult abuse by authorizing each district attorney to develop a multidisciplinary team to investigate and prosecute such crimes in coordination with the District Attorneys Council. Each team would include a mental health professional, law enforcement agents experienced with or trained in elder and vulnerable adult abuse and neglect investigation, medical personnel with relevant experience, coordinators, the district attorney, as well as Adult Protective Services, the Office of Client Advocacy, and long-term care workers within the Department of Human Services (DHS). They would conduct joint investigations, develop a written protocol for such investigations, collaborate with professionals responsible for the reporting and investigation of such abuse, eliminate duplicative efforts, identify gaps in service, develop expertise through training, and standardize investigative practices.

I’d also like to remind everyone of the legislative schedule to help you better understand the process. I’m getting a lot of calls, texts and emails asking me to support particular bills, which I appreciate because it helps me understand what issues are important to you. However, I don’t want there to be confusion as to what bills we’ll have the opportunity to vote on when session convenes in February, so I thought I would give a brief run-down or reminder of how it all works. 

From Feb. 7 to March 3, we’ll be reviewing Senate bills in our various Senate committees. I’ll only be voting on those Senate bills that go through my specific committees, which include Business, Commerce and Tourism; Health and Human Services; Rules; Transportation and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

Bills approved by the Senate committees then move to the Senate Floor for consideration by the full Senate. We will then have until March 17 to vote on Senate measures. If approved by the full Senate, they’ll be sent to the House for further consideration in their committees.

At this point, the process starts all over with the Senate considering bills approved in the House and vice versa. We will review the approved House bills in our Senate committees from March 21 to April 14. If passed by their committee, House bills will then move forward for floor consideration. The full Senate will have until April 28 to vote on those House measures.

The final month of session is focused mostly on reaching a budget agreement and work in conference committees, which we’ll talk about when we get to that point. But just know that I won’t have the opportunity to vote on Senate bills unless they’re assigned to my committees or until they make it to the full Senate; and we won’t deal with House bills until the end of March if they even make it out of their own chamber. 

The legislative process is very precise and scheduled. You can rest assured that every bill is vetted at least twice in both chambers before getting to the governor’s desk. This provides ample time for public and legislative scrutiny and input. You can track legislation on our website at www.oksenate.gov.

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.