Oklahoma City State Representative Ellyn Hefner advances bills aiming to provide ‘Safety for Vulnerable Communities’

State Representative Ellyn Hefner (D-Oklahoma City) has spearheaded measures characterized in a legislative press release as including “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.”

House Bill 3797 aims to ensure “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.

Rep. 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, H.B. 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.

Representative Hefner underscored the significance of these provisions, stating in comments sent to CapitolBeatOK.com, “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 H.B. 3797‘s Senate author being Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, and H.B. 3793‘s Senate author being Senator Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan.

With these legislative initiatives, Representative Hefner has consistently demonstrated what she believes reflects a “commitment to championing the rights and safety of Oklahoma’s vulnerable communities, laying the groundwork for a more inclusive and protective environment for all.”