The Oklahoma House on Thursday passed eight bills regarding the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. All eight were authored in response to a House work group’s examination of the agency, and they are as follows:
House Bill 3132 expresses legislative intent directing that the Department of Human Services (DHS) organizational structure be modified so that personnel responsible for the development of policy will also be responsible and accountable for the implementation of that policy.
House Bill 3133 authorizes the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY) to employ administrative law judges (ALJ) to preside over hearings of the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Office of Client Advocacy that are child-welfare and foster-care related. The measure also transfers the relevant ALJ positions from DHS to OCCY.
House Bill 3134 expresses legislative intent directing that the Department of Human Services (DHS) organizational structure be modified so that personnel responsible for the development of policy will also be responsible and accountable for the implementation of that policy
House Bill 3135 states that the Department of Human Services is not prohibited from providing a summary of an individual’s child welfare history to a person who has applied to be a foster or adoptive placement resource or legal guardian with a federally recognized Indian tribe. The bill also provides that the department is not prohibited from disclosing information concerning alleged child abuse or neglect that has been made public by a law enforcement agency when the disclosure is limited to confirmation of the child’s safety and whether the child has been taken into custody.
House Bill 3136 directs the Department of Human Services to create a certification process for child welfare workers.
House Bill 3137 would provide the Legislature statutory authority to oversee the Commission on Human Services if a similar proposed amendment to the state constitution is passed by voters.
HJR 1092 sends to a vote of the people a proposed constitutional amendment that would repeal Sections 3 and 4 of Article 25 of the State Constitution that created the Oklahoma Public Welfare Commission and the Director of Public Welfare position. The measure would authorize the Legislature to determine the composition and duties of the Human Services Commission.
Over the past several months, Representatives Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City), Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa), Pat Ownbey (R-Ardmore), and Wade Rousselot (R-Wagoner) worked across the state to meet with the various stakeholders associated with OKDHS to determine matters which require legislative action.
Among those with whom they met were hundreds of OPEA members who work for various divisions of OKDHS throughout the state of Oklahoma. Unfortunately, OPEA will not be taking an official position on some areas affecting DHS, including any legislation dealing with the Commission and any aimed at changing the overall organizational structure of the agency.
However, we would be more than happy to coordinate communications between our members and the legislators involved in this process. If you have any questions, please email OPEA Membership Director Haley Blood at firstname.lastname@example.org.