OKRSOL started out following ten introduced legislative bills from this year’s legislature, the 2nd Regular Session of the 56th Oklahoma Legislature. By its end, only three bills, that directly affect registrants, were signed into law, and the new Vulnerable Adult Registry was created. The following is a report on the bills that were of interest to OKRSOL this year.
Introduced by Rep Rick West, this bill was another failed attempt at a chemical castration law. It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee where it died.
Introduced by Rep Fourkiller, this bill would have created the “Oklahoma Animal Abuse Offender Registry Act.” It was referred to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee where it died.
Introduced by Rep Downing, this was a shell bill that would have created the “Oklahoma Sex Crimes Act of 2018.” It was referred to the House Rules Committee where it died.
SB1046, SB1135 and SB1322
These three bills were identical, each requiring a search of the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry when conducting background checks when a court is appointing a legal guardian of a child. SB1135, introduced by Sen Floyd, passed and will become law. The other two bills died.
Introduced by Rep O’Donnell, this bill would create the “Vulnerable Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Registry”. It passed and was signed by the Governor becoming new law.
We refer to this bill as the “Conundrum Law.” It was introduced by Rep Sanders. It changes the definition of a day care center from being defined by the Department of Human Services (DHS) to being defined by the Oklahoma Child Care Facilities Licensing Act while adding “…family child care home…” to the list of restricted areas contained in the residency restrictions. Here is the conundrum:
DHS gets its definition of a child care facility from the Oklahoma Child Care Facilities Licensing Act. For any child care facility to legally operate in Oklahoma, it must fall under DHS guidelines. In other words, while adding the words “…family child care home…” to the list of restricted areas, it doesn’t legally add to the list because either the facility already has been licensed by DHS, or it has not. So legally speaking, this doesn’t seem to make any change to the law. However, with this wording change, it is entirely possible that law enforcement agencies could illegally include in-home babysitters to their list of restricted areas by way of their own interpretation of the language in the revised laws.
Obviously, this is another change in the laws affecting registrants, that by way of confusion, opens the floodgates of interpretations which should have been squashed or re-written. OKRSOL met with the Senate Co-Author, Sen AJ Griffin, and requested clarification shortly after this bill’s introduction. Sen Griffin admitted to us that she had not met with the House Author about this bill. She went on to say, “I believed it to be a simple clarification of the state statutes, but I’m not sure.” These were her words, not ours. She wasn’t sure what she was co-authoring and did not seem concerned about the possible miss-interpretations. At the end of the meeting, she stated if she found out any new information, she would be sure and contact us. She never contacted us. It came as no surprise that the Governor signed this bill with no concern, approving it as an amendment to current law.
HB3051, SB1221 and the previous session’s HB1124
These three bills all worked together to become the “Justice for Danyelle Act of 2018”.
First, here is a little history on the Danyelle Dyer family situation. A victim of sexual abuse, Danyelle Dyer, contacted authorities in June of 2017 when she saw her abuser living next door to her parent’s house. (NOTE: A place she is just visiting, not living at.) She went to the Oklahoma legislators with her problem. Then Rep Kyle Hilbert went on record in the media to promise legislation to assure that victims would not have to live near their abusers.
Rep Hilbert introduced HB3051. This was to create a new law known as the “Oklahoma Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2018.” A shell bill introduced without language. OKRSOL went to Rep Hilbert’s office and contacted the same by phone asking for the language to this proposed law. Rep Hilbert refused to provide the proposed language of this legislation to OKRSOL.
Then Sen Leewright introduced SB1221. This bill proposed increasing the residency restrictions and the loitering law by including the homes of registrant’s victims. (The legislation promised by Rep Hilbert in the media.) OKRSOL met with Sen Leewright and proposed adding the phrase, “For those convicted on or after November 1, 2018…”. We explained to him that his proposed language would lead to an unconstitutional application that would affect everyone listed on the registry. Adding our proposed phrase would eradicate the unconstitutionality of the bill.
His response was that he not only wanted it applied to all registrants, regardless of the constitutional compliance, but also that he wanted the residency restriction distance to be five miles instead of the current 2,000 feet. The impression that he wanted to leave upon us was that we were getting a bargain at what he was proposing, and we should be happy about it.
His lack of concern for the United States Constitution and the Oklahoma Constitution was on full display when we first mentioned our proposal. He said to us, “…that would stop it from being applied to the guy we wrote this for…”. He had just admitted to us that they were proposing legislation that was directly aimed at one individual. This practice has been considered taboo in the legislative world but not here in conservative Oklahoma.
It was at this time that OKRSOL discovered that Rep Hilbert had pulled a dormant bill out of the previous session and amended the language to match that of the language in Sen Leewright’s SB1221. HB1124 was originally introduced by Rep Biggs in the 2017 session. It was a shell bill that never received any language and did not make it out of committee. So, it was fair game for Rep Hilbert to amend.
There is only one reason why a legislator would do such a thing. He did not want anyone, like OKRSOL, to know what language he was proposing so that it could not be challenged. With it being a dormant bill from a previous session, there was no way that anyone would be able to look it up on their website unless they knew exactly what they were looking for. So how did we find it? While visiting with Sen Leewright, his Legislative Assistant casually mentioned this bill by number and asked if we had read it.
After Rep Hilbert had his language put into HB1124, and it passed out of committee, Sen Leewright’s SB1221 passed the House Public Safety Committee with a Committee Substitute. This Committee Substitute eradicated all the language in the bill and replaced it with rules and regulations relating to the parole board. The desired language mandating that registrants could not live nor loiter near their victim’s home was safely in Rep Hilbert’s HB1124 and was no longer required in SB1221.
From that point, it passed both committees and chambers with flying colors before being signed into law creating the “Justice for Danyelle Act of 2018”. This act is going to be applied to all registrants regardless of the ex post facto violation. This law was created because a registrant could not find any place to live due to the residency restrictions other than moving in with his mother, who lived next door to a house where Danyelle Dyer was visiting. She was not living there, and the registrant was not planning to live in the house next door for very long, but a law was created anyway, one that was not required for public safety but rather to satisfy a victim’s request.
In summary, from the legislative bills we started monitoring, there are four major changes to the law created by the 2018 session. The first one has no effect whatsoever on registrants, however we do pay attention any time a new registry scheme is created. “The Vulnerable Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Registry” is to be maintained by the Office of the Attorney General and will create a registry for those that offend against vulnerable adults.
This session also amended current law with poorly written language leaving the changes open for interpretation. Changing the definition of a day care, for residency restrictions, the way that they did, has only opened a door of uncertainty that could creep right into a registrant’s freedom. HB3330’s language is confusing and will allow law enforcement more interpretive power to say where a registrant is restricted from living.
From this legislative session, Oklahoma courts are now required to search the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry when appointing a legal guardian over a minor, but the most devastating change is another expansion to the residency restrictions and loitering law. Registrants will be prohibited from living within 2,000 feet of their victim’s home and are prohibited from loitering within 1,000 feet of the same. This will only increase the hardship of finding sustainable housing. No matter how great or small, any addition to the residency restrictions is legislative change in the wrong direction.
If you have any questions regarding this report, please address them through our contact us page and indicate “2018 Legislative Report” within the subject line. We will connect you with a volunteer who can assist you.