OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate has given unanimous approval to a bill known as the Stephen Bernius Memorial Act, expanding domestic abuse language in state law that determines who can obtain a protective order. Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, is the Senate principal author of House Bill 4374.
“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,” Weaver said. “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.”
HB 4374 modifies the definition of “family or household members” as used in the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act and the Domestic Abuse Report Act to include persons not related by blood or marriage living in the same household.
Rep. Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow, is the principal House author.
"This bill is an unfortunate necessity brought to me as a request from a mother in my House district whose son was murdered by his roommate because he was not able to obtain a protective order," Ford said. "I appreciate Senator Weaver for carrying this cause forward in the Senate to help us avert future loss of life by broadening the list of those who can obtain such orders."
The measure now returns to the House for further consideration.
For more information, contact:
Sen. Darrell Weaver at 405-521-5569 or email Darrell.Weaver@oksenate.gov.
Rep. Ross Ford at 405-557-7347 or email Ross.Ford@okhouse.gov.