HB-1244 UPDATE as of April 21, 2018

HB-1244 is moving.  The bill, known as the Jeri Cooper Act, is scheduled for a Senate floor vote on Monday, April 23rd.  On Monday, the Senate meets at 1:30 p.m.  It is expected Senator Griffin, the  Senate author, will move to restore the bill’s title, which was stricken in committee.  This move means the bill will be in exactly the same form as the House-passed version, so that if approved by the Senate, the bill can go directly to the Governor for signing.  A PDF copy of the bill is attached.


Remember you can watch/listen to the Senate floor activity by going to www.oksenate.gov and selecting the link for Live Floor Proceedings. 


Also be aware that legislative agendas are subject to change.  If for some reason HB-1244 is not voted on Monday, it could come up later in the week.


We expect state agency funding bills to be introduced this coming week, so legislative attention will shortly be focused on budget for all agencies besides Education.  Soon after the agency appropriations have been cleared, legislators will hope to adjourn.


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Support Services Provider/Jeri Cooper Act of 2017

This morning HB-1244, the Support Services Provider Act of 2017 (also being called the Jeri Cooper Act) passed in the House Public Health Committee on a 6-0 vote. Members who voted for the bill were Representatives Bush, Derby, Lawson, McEntire , Ritze and Sean Roberts. The committee substitute bill that passed is attached. Lepak’s bill directs DRS to establish a grant program to expand availability of Support Service Providers for Oklahomans who are deaf-blind. The program would only be implemented if and when funds are available. An annual funding cap of $300,000 is set in the bill – but no specific funding sources are designated. The measure is essentially enabling legislation that would make action possible at such time funds are made available. Next stop for the bill is the House floor. To thank Rep. Lepak and Public Health Committee members for their support of this legislation to assist deaf-blind Oklahomans, go towww.okhouse.gov. Then select the Representatives menu item, and scroll to the name of the appropriate Representative. On this main list of Representatives, beside each name you will find an “Email” box to click on for sending email. However, this feature may not work on your system – it does not work on mine. Instead, you should be able to send an email by clicking on the Representative name, which will take you to the Member’s bio page where you will again find an “Email Me” box. Click on this one, and a web form will come up.

To read the full copy of the Jeri Cooper Act please click here.

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Newly Released Videos on HKNC Website

The Helen Keller National Center announces two new training videos for deaf-blind individuals and family members. These videos were developed and are presented by deaf-blind individuals and are fully accessible with captioning and transcripts.

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Working miracles: New program to provide help to blind/deaf Oklahomans

FOR people who are both deaf and blind, the world can be a daunting place. It’s dark and quiet, and not many people know how to communicate with someone whose senses are limited.

In the U.S., about 70,000 people people live in a dark, quiet world, according to Helenkeller.org. Cassandra Oakes, of Bethany, is one. In 2010, Oakes and her husband, Tim Oakes, started a program to help others who have lost their vision and hearing: Sight-Hearing Encouragement Program — or SHEP.

“I want to teach them to come out of their closets, come on out of their predicament, come out of being mad at the world, come out of that negative energy,” Oakes said.

Through the program, service support providers (SSPs) spend time with their blind/deaf companions, taking them shopping or to lunch or to run errands. They describe the sights and sounds their companions are missing.

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