A bill that would allow for a separate facility to house sex offenders in need of long term care cleared another hurdle today, however, during the process new hoops to jump through emerged.
House Bill 2704 would give the state Department of Health the authority to set up either an independent facility or a sectioned off area of a facility for registered sex offenders who are placed in nursing homes. Facilities with the ability to cordon off registered sex offenders has been debated since Oklahoma Gazette reported instances of offenders living in long-term care facilities and abusing other residents more than two years ago.
The bill in its original form spelled out language that called for the creation of such a facility. The Health Department would not have to build new facilities, it could simply accept bids from existing nursing homes across the state willing to partition off part of a facility to house sex offenders.
The Oklahoma Senate approved the measure by a vote of 46-0 once amendments were tacked on sending the bill to a conference committee to work out the details. The amendments did not pertain to the core subject of the bill, but dealt with other health related issues such as the state Board of Examiners.
Once out of conference, it will have to be voted on again by the state House and Senate before going to the governor for his signature into law. - Scott Cooper