OKLAHOMA CITY – A date has been set for Rep. Ross Ford’s interim study on finding ways to better assist domestic violence victims and to address the generational impact of such abuse. Interim study IS23-051 is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 4 in Room 450 at the State Capitol, 2300 N Lincoln Blvd. It will be heard by the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee. "I've talked with countless individuals and organizations who are excited to help Oklahomans and offered their assistance in any way. Together I'm hoping these subject-matter experts can help us understand what works and how better we can help these victims," said Ford, R-Broken Arrow. “I want to look at early intervention, programs that will help empower victims to leave their attackers before it is too late, and that help show what healthy relationships look like." Ford, a former police officer, said one area of focus will be how domestic violence forensic examinations can provide much needed support for district attorneys to help enhance punishments for perpetrators of this crime. Ford said his study is made even more timely with recent news reports that show Oklahoma now ranks highest in domestic violence for both men and women and third in the U.S. for the number of women killed by their significant others. In addition, the Oklahoma Coalition for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault is no longer operating after a loss of federal funding. This came after a federal audit found misspending of public funds by former staff and board members. "I think with the position we've found ourselves in, it's imperative we don't just try to go back to the old method that allowed our state to rank the highest in domestic violence," Ford said. "Instead, we must look at a variety of options and organizations to try and break the generational cycle of abuse our state is in. While it is important to look after the victims, I want to ensure we are also doing what we can to help educate and prevent future victims." Rep. Ford appreciates all those who have contacted his office already. He encourages anyone else wanting to join the conversation to attend the interim study or continue reaching out to his office either to his email at Ross.Ford@okhouse.gov or by calling (405) 557-7347.
An interim study to examine evidence-based behavior interventions for students with disabilities enrolled in public schools will be held Thurs., Oct. 5. The bipartisan study, requested by Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater, and held in coordination with Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, will study the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and effects of using corporal punishment on a student with a disability. "I'm glad we have another opportunity to continue conversations about how we as a state can ensure children with disabilities can learn and grow in our public schools without suffering the adverse effects that physical punishment may bring," Talley said. Speakers include Andrea Kunkel, general counsel for the Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration (CCOSA) and executive director of Oklahoma Directors of Special Services (ODSS), who will share details on the IDEA policy; Dr. Scott Singleton, professor of psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma, who will speak to the consequences of using physical punishment on students with disabilities; and Dr. Gary Duhon, professor of school psychology at Oklahoma State University, who will share evidence-based behavioral reduction interventions for students with disabilities. Talley said the agenda will also include a public school parent sharing the mental toll of physical punishment on their child with disabilities while at school, as well as Dr. Kyle Reynolds, retired Woodward Public Schools superintendent, who will provide a superintendent's perspective. "It must be our goal to ensure our public school policies help each child achieve their greatest potential, but numerous studies show using corporal punishment on students with disabilities can cause tremendous and lasting harm,” Floyd said. “We’ll learn more about that in this study, and hear from Oklahoma experts about how schools can better respond when behavioral issues arise, without resorting to physical punishment.” Talley and Floyd authored House Bill 1028, which passed the House 84-8 in March and remains alive for consideration in the Senate next session. In its current form, the bill prohibits the use of corporal punishment only on students identified with the most significant cognitive disabilities, who account for less than 10% of students with disabilities in Oklahoma's public schools. The interim study is scheduled for Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. in Room 206 at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The study is open to the public and may also be live-streamed on the House website.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Eric Roberts, R-Oklahoma City, recently received the Dragonfly Home Award for Outstanding Efforts in the Fight to End Human Trafficking for authoring House Bill 2054. The bill changes the penalty for purchasing prostitution from a misdemeanor to a felony, a change requested by the Oklahoma City Police Vice Unit. Texas made a similar penalty change and found it successful in reducing trafficking. Many of those engaging in prostitution are victims of human trafficking. "I am grateful to Dragonfly Home for all of their excellent work in helping survivors of human trafficking," Roberts said. "Dragonfly Home meets each individual where they are, providing support and services to help them recover from trafficking abuse. I would like to thank Senator Darrell Weaver and the Oklahoma City Police Vice Unit for their assistance with HB2054 and to a constituent who prompted my interest in running the bill." Under HB2054, a person can be sentenced to up to three years in prison and is subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense, $2,500 for a second offense and up to $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense. If the victim of the offense is a minor, the penalty is a maximum of ten years imprisonment and provides a fine of up to $5,000 for a first offense, $10,000 for a second offense and up to $15,000 for a third or consecutive offense. The measure would also require the offender to register as a sex offender upon a third conviction. The bill does not increase penalties for people engaging in prostitution. More information on the Dragonfly Home is available at https://www.thedragonflyhome.org/ . -END- PHOTO: Whitney Anderson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Dragonfly Home, presents award to Rep. Eric Roberts for HB2054.