The State Senate has approved a bill to provide Oklahoma nursing homes with sex offender notifications. Principal Senate author of HB 1963, Sen. Debbe Leftwich said the measure will give greater peace of mind to nursing home residents and their families. In addition to providing nursing homes with notifications of individuals on the statewide sex offender registry, it also requires notification of those who are on the state’s violent offender registry.
“When local law enforcement receives notification that a convicted sex offender or violent offender is moving into a nursing home, I believe the residents, employees and the families need that information. This bill will ensure that happens,” said Leftwich, D-OKC.
The measure, authored by Rep. Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, in the House, also mandates that once the nursing home is provided with copies of sex and violent offender notifications, they would then be required to display the information in an area accessible to residents, employees and visitors. The bill also requires that when the Department of Corrections places a sex offender or violent offender in a nursing home that they must then notify the State Health Department, which then must notify the nursing home.
“We’re also going to require criminal background checks for non-licensed full-time employees not currently covered by such requirements, such as cooks, janitors and other staff members,” Leftwich said.
The measure also requires background checks on any state employees that work in nursing homes from agencies such as the Department of Human Services and the Health Department. The bill includes required background checks on nursing home ombudsmen.
“We want to make sure that none of those employees are on the statewide registries for sex or violent offenders,” Leftwich said. “We need to do all we possibly can to protect Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens.”
HB 1963 now goes to Gov. Brad Henry for his signature.