Roe Passes Mental Health, Healthcare Workers Bills

Mar 10, 2023
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OKLAHOMA CITY –  Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay, advanced two bills in the House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, Roe passed House Bill 2157, the "Shannon Hanchett Act," which would recommend at least 20% of active-duty law enforcement officers to train in crisis intervention. It would also require that an officer must document the reasoning behind not getting a mental health evaluation done on an individual who appears to be or states that such person is mentally ill, alcohol-dependent, or drug-dependent.

HB2157 is named after Shannon Hanchett, a small business owner known as the "Cookie Queen" to her Norman neighbors. She passed away in Dec. 2022 after spending 12 days in jail following an arrest while suffering a mental health crisis. Hanchett grew up in Roe's House district.

"I am saddened by the need for this bill, but honored to run it in remembrance of Shannon's legacy," Roe said. "This bill ensures officers have the skill set and understanding to engage with individuals suffering from a mental health illness and get them the appropriate treatment when needed."

The bill encourages all law enforcement officers to complete crisis intervention training. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service will offer the 40-hour training program at no cost to our state's law enforcement agencies.

HB2157 also directs ODMHSAS, if law enforcement requests, to conduct a mental health evaluation within 24 hours. If the assessment determines a transfer to a mental health facility best suits the individual's needs, that transfer must be done within 24 hours. If they cannot locate a secure bed in a mental health facility, ODMHSAS will reimburse county jails the costs of housing that individual until a bed is found.

The Shannon Hanchett Act was approved by the House 92-0.

House Bill 2154, approved Thursday, would expand statutory language initially passed in 2020 to protect all staff and contractors working within a healthcare facility from aggravated assault and battery.

"In recent years, we've seen an increase in the number of healthcare providers being assaulted for doing their job," Roe said. "Collecting this data will allow hospitals to identify the types of assaults occurring and, in return, create security policies that better protect their employees."

HB 2154, as amended, prohibits assault on any medical care providers, other employees, or independent contractors working in or for a health care facility and performing medical care duties. The measure requires that medical facilities report assault data to the Department of Health by January 31 of the following year. Reports are to withhold the identities of both the victim and the assailant. The Department of Health is authorized to publish the data on its website annually.

It passed the House 86-0.

Both pieces of legislation now move to the Senate to await committee assignment.

Oklahoma House of Representatives seal