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Friday, March 15, 2013

Tahlequah Daily Press


AARP eyes state legislation for seniors

OKLAHOMA CITY With more than 410,000 members across the state, AARP Oklahoma was at the State Capitol in full force recently, advocating for Oklahomans 50andover and outlining the group's 2013 priorities for this legislative session. At AARP's annual legislative breakfast, an event that attracted seniors from across the state, the group called for legislative changes to improve accountability and oversight at the Oklahoma Department of Veterans' Affairs seven state operated veterans' centers. Other key legislative priorities include efforts to combat senior hunger, grandparental visitation rights, long-term care reforms, as well as increasing consumer protections and improving health and safety. "Last year, it was heartbreaking to learn of widespread abuse and neglect in Oklahoma's veterans centers. Oklahoman veterans deserve better and we're pleased to support the efforts of Sen. Simpson and Rep. Ownbey to improve oversight of these facilities," said AARP Oklahoma State President Marjorie Lyons. "We look forward to continuing to discuss our top legislative priorities with our legislators, and explaining why it is so important that they stand up for older Oklahomans." Also at the breakfast, AARP recognized State Sen. Mike Schulz for his legislative leadership, advocating for Oklahoma seniors. Schulz has long been a supporter of increased protections for Oklahoma's most frail and vulnerable. Last year, as Majority Floor Leader, he was instrumental in bringing several, crucial long-term care bills supported by AARP Oklahoma to a successful vote in the Senate. One of these measures, House Bill 2582, was heard in the waning hours of session and would not have received a final vote were it not for Senator Schulz's efforts to secure final passage. "Senator Schulz understands the needs of Oklahoma seniors, and he works hard to ensure those needs are met," Lyons said. "We are grateful for his consistent and bold leadership on the issues that matter most to older Oklahomans and their families." Later volunteers gathered in the House Gallery as Reperans Affairs. House Bill 1418. This measure would create the "Josephine Meade AntiHunger Act," which would require the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to promulgate rules allowing individuals utilizing the food services of senior nutrition sites to take home leftover food. House Bill 1520. This measure would provide legal courts with the discretion to order an initial mediation upon the filing of a verified petition for grandparental visitation rights. Senate Bill 550. This would amend Oklahoma's Unfair Sales Act to remove the mandatory minimum markup of 6% on certain merchandise and products. More information, including a full list of legislative priorities is available at www. AARP is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security and retirement planning. We advocate for consumers in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel and services. AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; org; AARP TV and Radio; AARP Books; and AARP VIVA, a bilingual news source. AARP does not endorse candidates for office or make contributions to campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more .

At AARP's annual legislative breakfast, an event that attracted seniors from across the state, the group called for legislative changes to improve accountability and oversight at the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs seven state operated veterans' centers. In attendance, from left, were: State Rep. Steve Kouplen, State Rep. Jerry McPeak, Modina Allen, State Rep. Arthur Hulbert, State Rep. Mike Brown, Rich Carothers, AARP Oklahoma Director Sean Voskuhl, and Ray Harshman.

resentative Harold Wright presented HR 1008, recognizing the valuable role that caregivers play in the lives of elderly Oklahomans and calling for a review of state policies and state programs that address the needs of older adults and caregivers. The resolution passed unanimously, and all House members were made co-authors. The group today announced support for the following measures currently pending before the Legislature: Senate Bill 228. This measure creates the "Quality Workforce for Oklahoma's Heroes Act," which authorizes the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs to establish education and training programs for positions critical to the quality care of veterans residing in Oklahoma's seven state-operated veterans centers. Senate Bill 235. This measure adds an array of responsibilities to the War Veterans Commission of Oklahoma relating to veterans homes under the Commission's oversight. Specifically, the measure requires the Commission to make all necessary rules, regulations and procedures for the operation and management of veterans' centers and to insure that veterans' centers comply with all federal and state statutes and rules applicable to the operation of long-term care facilities. In addition, the measure requires the Commission to provide for the burial of deceased residents who have no surviving relatives or relatives that do not claim their bodies and to assure the protection of the rights of all residents, including the right to be

free from abuse and neglect. Senate Bill 315. This measure requires the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training to include in its required basic training courses for law enforcement certification a minimum of two hours of education and training relating to recognizing and managing a person experiencing dementia or Alzheimer's disease. Senate Bill 587. This measure would allow residents of Oklahoma's nursing homes to have electronic monitoring devices (video surveillance cameras) installed in their private rooms at their own expense. The legislation also prohibits a nursing facility from denying admittance to or attempting to move or retaliate against a resident that desires to have a private video surveillance camera installed in his or her own

Tempore of the Senate. The measure also requires the Department of Health to initiate a complaint with the appropriate district attorney and to cooperate in any ensuing prosecutions when a Department of Health inspection reveals the commission of a crime or crimes at any long-term care facility operated by the Department of Vet-


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Senate Bill 629. This measure requires the Oklahoma Department of Health to conduct unannounced inspections of all long-term care facilities operated by the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs to be evaluated for compliance with the Continuum of Care and Assisted Living Facilities Act and the Nursing Home Care Act. In addition, the measure requires the Department of Health to submit the results of its inspections, including a list of deficiencies in the condition or operation of a facility and recommendations for corrective measures to the administrator of the facility in question, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the War Veterans Commission, the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro

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