June 23, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
Telephone: (405) 833-1117
Child Advocacy Group Releases Legislative Scorecard
Eight Oklahoma Lawmakers Earn Perfect Score on Children’s Issues
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) released its legislative scorecard for the 57th Oklahoma Legislature detailing lawmakers’ stands on children’s issues.
The scorecard is a comprehensive look at the 2019-2020 sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature, and a nonpartisan evaluation of lawmakers’ votes on specific bills relating to the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.
“These ratings are important tools for voters to use as they make their decisions about who to support in this year’s primary and general elections,” said Joe Dorman, OICA’s CEO. “Each vote on the bills we examined has an impact on Oklahoma’s children. A core component of our mission is to ensure that lawmakers and their constituents are aware of what they did either for or to Oklahoma’s children.”
In all, only eight lawmakers out of the 149-member Oklahoma Legislature had perfect pro-child scores, meaning they voted on every bill and voted the pro-child position. Another 32 lawmakers “did no harm,” meaning they voted the pro-child position on all measures where they cast votes but missed votes on one or more of the child-related bills. Lawmakers are not penalized for “excused” votes.
The eight perfect score lawmakers are Rep. Ronny Johns, R-Ada; Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa; Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman; Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City; Sen. J.J. Dossett, D- Owasso; Sen. Tom Dugger, R-Stillwater; Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City; and, Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee.
Dorman noted the service of both Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, and Rep. Ben Loring, D-Miami, who are retiring from the Legislature this year. “Representative Sanders did amazing work helping children with dyslexia, while Representative Loring was a champion on criminal justice reform,” he said. “Oklahoma is a better state because of their service, and we wish them well in whatever they do in the future.”
Other lawmakers Dorman noted was Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, for his work to eliminate harmful counseling practices used against children, and Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, for his work supporting criminal justice reform and multiple issues supported by OICA.
Previously, OICA named Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa, and Rep. Mark Lawson, R-Sapulpa, as the organization’s “Legislators of the Year.”
On all the bills for the 2020 legislative scorecard, a “Yes” vote was a positive vote, except for HJR 1040 on which a “No” vote is the pro-child vote. Only seven measures were scored during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 session. The bills selected as part of the 2020 legislative scorecard were:
HJR 1040 – This measure would have disapproved new rules established by the state Department of Health relating to parent information about vaccinations. (A “No” vote is pro-child.)
HB 1282 – The bill prohibits children under 12 years of age from being placed in a juvenile detention facility unless all other alternatives have been exhausted. The bill applied to children charged with an offense classified as a felony if committed by an adult. The measure also allows children between the ages of 13 and 14 to be admitted to a juvenile detention facility if no alternatives exist, if the juvenile is charged with an offense that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult, and an assessment indicates the child requires detention.
HB 1276 – The measure ends the practice of revoking driving privileges for failure to pay child support. Keeps noncustodial parents paying child support as being able to work, which increases the likelihood the support payments could restart.
HB 2804 – The bill requires dyslexia screening in schools.
SB 1436 – The bill authorizes the State Board of Education to issue standard certificates, or one-year provisional teaching certificates, in the areas of mild-moderate disabilities and comprehensive special education to qualified individuals, but requires additional credentials and certifications be gotten within a standard period.
HB 3251 – The measure adds domestic abuse by strangulation, domestic assault with a dangerous weapon, domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and domestic assault and battery with a deadly weapon to the violent crimes list.
HB 2791 and SB 1303 – The two bills, which have the same effect relating to children’s seat belt use, both were considered by only one house of the Legislature.
These measures were added to child-related measures considered during the 2019 session of the Legislature for an average pro-child score on the measures for the two-year-long 57th Oklahoma Legislature.
“It was a good two sessions for Oklahoma’s children as we saw lawmakers on both sides of the aisle stand strong on children’s issues, but it can always be better,” Dorman concluded. “That is why we publish these scores, so lawmakers and their constituents understand the importance of policy measures relating to children and that we at OICA will always fight for Oklahoma’s kids.”