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For The Children Weekly Column

Summer Means Interim Legislative Studies; OICA Monitoring Several

July 11, 2022

“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

Email: jdorman@oica.org

OKLAHOMA CITY – In addition to high temperatures, summer means legislative work shifts to interim studies. For those not familiar, interim studies are requested reviews of policy by lawmakers held through an official committee meeting with other legislators. 

Interim studies are requested by individual or groups of lawmakers to do one-hour to full-day reviews of good and bad points with a policy of interest. Many lawmakers will file studies regarding topics which they find important, while others will submit them at the request of constituents.

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) annually asks Oklahomans what laws should be changed, created or repealed for the best interests of Oklahoma’s children and families. Each year, we collect those ideas and submit them to lawmakers for their consideration. While not all the ideas we forwarded on were taken up, we are certainly pleased that three of our main topics of concern will receive hearings.

In the Oklahoma State Senate, we are appreciative of Sen. Jessica Garvin for filing a review of a bill she initially filed last session. Lawmakers will examine voluntarily requesting information regarding long-term trauma impacting children when they have pediatric visits. In addition, an adult caregiver who bring a child to the doctor’s office will also have the chance to fill out a form regarding their childhood trauma to determine if issues might be generational. 

Studies show that Oklahoma’s children rank highly when it comes to specific points of studied childhood trauma, particularly with Adverse Childhood Experiences, also known as ACEs. This trauma often leads to adult health conditions which severely impact those who have not received early help. By determining at an early age if trauma exists in the home, this will help curb medical costs later in life and which often saves the state money with expenses.

Regarding the next topic, improved school safety and security, we are happy that studies on this issue will occur in both the state House of Representatives and the Senate. Sen. John Michael Montgomery filed a review on this topic, and Reps. Jacob Rosecrants and Daniel Pae joined together in a bipartisan fashion to also study this issue.

With the conversations following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, we are hoping for a policy to come forward to help schools afford the costs for retrofitting building for improved security, while also looking at the costs involved with partnering with communities to have school resource officers, the local police officers who are headquartered on a school campus.

On the third point, we thank Rep. John Waldron for filing a study to examine ways to increase participation in diversion programs for certain youthful offenders. We hope to look at ways to reduce costs for programs, and in turn lower recidivism rates by tapping into local organizations promoting diversion.

In total, OICA will monitor 15 total studies submitted by lawmakers in both chambers. We appreciate those lawmakers who requested issues involving children and we look forward to being involved in assisting them. These studies will likely begin in September, with many going into October.

We also hope to tie in some of these issues with our Fall Forum, OICA’s annual policy conference which will have mid-October. Please follow this column or check out https://www.oica.org to keep up with this work and how you can be involved.

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