Have you ever read a news article so horrifying that it sticks with you for months? Have you ever learned about a common practice that seems so backwards and inhumane that you couldn’t understand why people haven’t put a stop to it?
I hate to sound overly dramatic, but that’s exactly what happened to me when I read a New Yorker Magazine piece about the system of court-appointed guardians in the United States. According to the reporter, there are roughly 1.5 million adults who are part of this system across the country. Many are lucid, functioning senior citizens who simply live slower lives than they used to. And often times, they’re being forcefully removed from their home and moved to a living center without any say in the matter. These men and women can quickly become wards, losing their assets and being charged exorbitant fees by the “guardians” who oversee their cases.
After I read this article, I couldn’t stomach the thought of Oklahoma seniors losing their rights. Thankfully, I’m not alone. A bill I authored creating the Commission on the Prevention of Abuse of Elderly and Vulnerable Adults is now eligible to be heard on the House floor. The commission would study and make recommendations for changes to state policies to better provide services to individuals at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation under existing adult guardianship laws. A report would be due by Dec. 1, 2019.
If our state really wants to brag on our “Oklahoma Standard,” we have to carry that standard throughout the care of all our residents – including and especially our most vulnerable. My desire is to see this commission and its recommendations through to the end, so our citizens can be treated fairly and respectfully.
As part of House District 50’s goal to make sure Oklahomans are properly equipped to effectively engage in government, I’ve also authored legislation requiring the Oklahoma Tax Commission submit a biennial report to the Legislature on the overall incidence of the income tax, sales tax and other excise taxes. The bill cleared committee last week and will allow Oklahomans insight into who all is paying taxes in the state. This is great policy that promotes transparency and assists lawmakers as we craft budget bills each year.
Lastly, my bill expanding the Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment Program received unanimous approval in committee. The measure permits the Physician Manpower Training Commission to waive the maximum rural population criteria currently in statute, which should entice more doctors and physician assistants to practice in rural areas.
These proposed policy changes are common sense measures, and Oklahomans will be able to see direct results from their implementation. Above all, that’s what I want to achieve as your state representative – policy changes you can benefit from. If you have anything you think I should know about, please reach out. I’m at Marcus.McEntire@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7327. God bless.
Marcus McEntire represents Oklahoma House District 50.