Laws to take effect in Oklahoma on Jan. 1

A handful of new laws take effect Jan. 1 in Oklahoma, including several that will likely mean lower property taxes for some individuals and businesses and more reforms for the Department of Human Services.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND mrolland@opubco.com Modified: December 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm •  Published: December 28, 2012

Previously, the deduction was available to those 62 years or older making no more than $10,000. Senate Bill 1449, signed into law by the governor in May, makes that threshold $22,000 or half of the median income in each county, whichever is greater.

“It hadn't been changed in years and years and years, so the legislature thought it would be more current to actually tie that into a scale,” Chuculate said.

He said the Tax Commission estimates about 200 or 300 people in the entire state will now qualify for the deduction who hadn't before.

DHS

Beginning on the first of the year, there will no longer be a difference in how DHS caseworkers investigate, report and handle allegations of abuse and neglect.

Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, said part of the complaint filed in the class-action lawsuit against DHS was that Oklahoma underreported abuse and neglect because the system for investigating alleged abuse in foster homes or state-owned shelters and group homes was less stringent.

Nelson said this change is a major piece of the DHS reform under way as part of the lawsuit settlement, which has come to be known as the Pinnacle Plan.

“It's a critical part of it, which is to have consistency of how you handle any abuse and neglect cases and it's also an accountability issue,” he said.

In 2013, the state is expected to report higher instances of abuse and neglect, Nelson said.

“It's not because all of a sudden there is a new jump in the instances of abuse, but it will be reported differently,” he said.

Nelson said other parts of the Pinnacle Plan will become state law as the process to reform DHS continues this upcoming legislative session in 2013.