Lawmakers Amass Pro-Child Records
June 26, 2023
“For the Children” Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, OICA CEO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
Telephone: (405) 833-1117
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is pleased to announce the results of our 2023 Legislative Report Card for lawmakers and the child-friendly legislation which passed through the Oklahoma State Capitol this session.
We want to thank each lawmaker for their work on behalf of young Oklahomans, and OICA was especially pleased that there were 49 “valedictorians” and 41 “salutatorians” this year; not a single lawmaker received a failing grade.
Of the valedictorians, 35 are Republican members and 14 are Democrats; it speaks well that being “pro-child” was really a nonpartisan quality among lawmakers. That result also shows that the work done by OICA is, by its nature, nonpartisan.
The work that each lawmaker did on behalf of children either authoring legislation or voting for pro-child policies is certainly appreciated by our board and staff. We enjoy working with each lawmaker to help keep them informed on the impact of their legislation, along with encouraging direction on specific policies.
In addition to the lawmakers’ grades, OICA also singles out select senators and representatives for their work on key issues. Below are the winners from this session, including an award for freshmen lawmakers completing their first session at the Capitol.
House Democrats of the Year are Reps. Ajay Pittman and Forrest Bennett; House Republicans of the Year are Reps. John Talley and Anthony Moore; Rep. Jeff Boatman also receives special recognition for his work on youth hunger issues. In the Senate, the Democrat Lawmaker of the Year is Sen. Kay Floyd, and the Senate Republicans of the Year are Sens. Darcy Jech and Brenda Stanley, with Sen. Jessica Garvin receiving special recognition for her work multiple issues.
The freshman lawmakers of the year are Reps. Suzanne Schreiber and Nick Archer in the House, and Sen. Ally Seifried.
The legislation OICA graded this year were: HB 1028, dealing with school corporal punishment; HB 1029, which dealt with homeless youth; HB 1031X on Oklahoma housing stability; HB 1032, which addressed adjudication reform; HB 1929, the Successful Adulthood Act; HB 1931, which made adjustments to TANF qualification; HB 1932, TANF qualification for pregnant women; HB 2513 which is known as “Handle With Care”; HB 2820, OETA reauthorization; and HB 2903, School Resource Officer and Shelter funding.
Also, SB 16X, six weeks of maternity leave for state employees; SB 19X, which is the High Quality Legal Representation for Families bill; SB 29X, which contained an early childhood pilot program; SB 33X, Human Services support; SB 100, school vulnerability assessments; SB 291, protective orders for children; SB 429, allowing students to wear tribal regalia at school events; SB 619, which increased the age for making admissible statements in court; SB 681, seatbelt age requirements; SB 844, enhancements to State Question 780; and SB 1121, six weeks maternity leave for school personnel.
Two of the bills, SB 681 and HB 1028, were only voted on in one chamber, but we have hope that these will move through the full system next year. Five bills were vetoed by Governor Stitt, of which three vetoes were overridden by two-thirds of the House of Representatives and Senate. Two bills, HB 1929 and HB 2513, were pocket vetoed. We will see next session what action lawmakers will take on those ideas.
OICA was pleased with the efforts by lawmakers, and we want to thank them each for their work, but especially those who went above and beyond. You can read more about the bills at OICA.ORG under the “Advocacy” tab to see each individual lawmaker’s score on bills affecting children.