For the Children: 
Interim Studies Offer Opportunities for Lawmakers and Constituents 
By OICA CEO Joe Dorman
June 8th 2017

 

With the regular session now over at the Oklahoma State Capitol, legislators have transitioned back to their districts full-time.  Many senators and representatives are scheduling town halls to discuss what occurred or attending community events to share stories about what to expect going forward.  I highly encourage you to attend at least one function where your legislators are speaking so you can hear from htem and have the chance to ask questions regarding issues important to you.
 
Another legislative activity which is often overlooked is the ability to hold special committee meetings, called interim studies, in the summer and fall months. Once requested and approved, these meetings allow legislators to bring in experts to discuss a point of interest for them and help them prepare for the next legislative session. While policy is not actually made during these meetings, they allow senators and representatives to promote their ideas, evaluate potential policy options, and weigh the benefits or drawbacks of future legislation they may be working on.
 
I have seen how useful and important these meetings can be firsthand, as a good interim study can be used to successfully launch a new project or, during a moment of honest deliberation, discourage lawmakers from adopting a bad policy.  If legislators take these meetings seriously and dedicate the due diligence to a forthright discussion, they will be better prepared for the work ahead. 
 
It is not too late for constituents to suggest ideas of their own to senators and representatives about an interim study (the deadline for House proposals is this coming Friday, June 9; the deadline for the Senate is June 14).  Each legislator can request ideas, and the leadership of their respective legislative body has the authority to approve or reject a formal hearing.  If you have an idea which you feel has merit to benefit the state, reach out to your lawmaker through an email, a call to their office, or attend one of those meetings which I previously mentioned.
 
At OICA, we are proud of the work we helped promote through the legislative process with our advocates, but many bills we felt were important (including several related to criminal justice reform) did not make it through the system.  Over the interim, we will work with legislators to consider studies regarding those topics.  We are also hoping to see some of our summer work tie in with efforts by legislators to assist with the implementation of many bills we championed for passage.  We are in the process of establishing two new programs (one related to foster care advocacy and the other to youth fitness and nutrition) and we are also gearing up for our Heroes Ball on August 10, a night where we will not only commend some very special honorees but will also hold a kids’ ball for 100 young Oklahomans to have a fun time.  More details can be found about our upcoming events at oica.org or on our Facebook page.
 
Even with the session concluded, a legislator’s work is not done, and neither is ours (or yours).  Please keep advocating year-round for the best interest of the children of Oklahoma!
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