A measure to better protect older Oklahomans has now cleared both chambers and is on its way to Gov. Brad Henry. On Thursday the House joined the Senate in approving Senate Bill 1289. Sen. Harry Coates is principal author of the measure. He said the bill closes a loophole in current state law aimed at restricting dangerous criminals from working in nursing homes, assisted living centers or adult day care centers.
“The problem the way the law is currently written, the language specifies anyone who has been convicted of certain crimes is banned from working in nursing homes, but it doesn’t address those individuals who pled guilty or no contest, or were given a deferred sentence,” explained Coates, R-Seminole. “Senate Bill 1289 closes that loophole so we can keep dangerous criminals out of nursing homes and assisted living centers and away from our loved ones.”
State Rep. Danny Morgan was principal author of the measure in the House. He said he was extremely gratified members of both chambers had acted quickly to approve the legislation, with both the Senate and the House supporting the bill by unanimous approval.
“We’re talking about some of the most vulnerable seniors in the state, and yet the way the current statute reads, a person who had plead guilty to attempted murder or some other horrible crime could legally be hired to work in a nursing home,” said Morgan, D-Prague. “This legislation effectively closes that loophole.”
Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, co-authored the measure in the House.
“I believe the original intent with the law as written was to ensure people who had committed dangerous crimes were kept away from our seniors,” Dank said. “Once the governor signs Senate Bill 1289 into law, we’ll be able to do a better job of accomplishing that important goal.