Kirsten McIntyre, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY – A law passed in the state legislature dealing with caretakers convicted of abuse. The bill was the result of one woman becoming passionate about protecting the elderly.
When Marilyn Kipps began her journey, she said she knew where the state Capitol was, but didn't even know where to park. She quickly figured out politics and managed to get a new state law passed.
"When you see these people in the hall, you know what they look like," said Kipps.
Kipps became determined to change the law after making a shocking discovery.
"I couldn't believe someone with three caretaker abuse convictions it would be legal for them to work in a nursing home," she said.
But when Kipps suspected her 92-year-old mother had been assaulted, she discovered another caretaker working with her mother had pleaded guilty to abuse, but received a deferred sentence.
"I was told there was a loophole in the law that the state of Oklahoma doesn't recognize a deferred sentence as a conviction," Kipps said.
With help from her husband, Kipps began contacting state agencies as well as her state representative and senator. Even though her mother had passed away, Kipps fought for Senate bill 1289, which expanded the definition of a conviction. She celebrated the day it passed.
"No opposing votes and my representative looked up at me and gave me a little nod. I gave him a little...Very happy," she said.
The new law went into effect last November, but Kipps said there are still problems with getting people added to the nurse aide registry, which tracks aides who have been convicted of abuse. She recommends families check out their loved ones caretakers for themselves.
The caretaker for Kipps' mother is charged with caretaker abuse. Danielle Stevenson, who lives in Prague, is scheduled to go to trial in June.