Monday saw the Rescheduled Children’s Advocacy Day and Chili Cook-off, and it was a smash hit!
More than a dozen youth organizations have formed to share missions with lawmakers and other advocates in the parking lot of the State Capitol. We also had a record number of sponsors. All in all, it was a fantastic day for advocates to have a friendly environment to learn about how to promote ideas to elected officials.
The Oklahoma Association of Community Action Agencies won first place, with Oklahoma Interviewing Services topping the People’s Choice Award. We’ve added a separate category for entries from Legislators, and the Sens team. Jo Anna Dossett and JJ Dossett, along with Rep. John Waldron, took top honors.
Many advocates have ventured into the building to share ideas with lawmakers on the legislation. While we are tracking over 75 legislative initiatives, most of which are positive in our view, we need more people willing to speak on topics to inform legislators of key issues. Most politics dealing with youth is not political in nature, but sometimes politics is going to come up with a lot of bills, and advocates can help ensure that good ideas survive some of those battles. Here are some of the ones we support:
• House Bill 1616, the “Hope Shaffer Act”. The measure, by Representatives Forrest Bennett and John Echols and Senator Jessica Garvin, would ban student passengers in driver education vehicles without parental waivers. The bill is named after Hope Shaffer, a student who tragically lost her life in a situation like the one the bill would prohibit.
• House Bill 3468 by Rep. Mark Lawson and Senator Paul Rosino would create the “Parent Representation Act”. Its goal is to “ensure that all parents, legal guardians and guardians entitled to duty-appointed counsel are appointed attorneys who have the training, support and access to resources necessary to provide consistent legal representation. and high quality”.
• Senate Bill 217 by Sen. Brent Howard and Rep. Anthony Moore would implement changes and update language to the state’s Young Offenders Act. Already approved by the senators, the OICA supports the measure as it is presented to the House of Representatives.
• We also support state funding for the Double Up Oklahoma program, which would strengthen the incentive to help SNAP recipients purchase fresh fruits and vegetables while supporting local growers and participating grocery stores.
We hope you will reach out to lawmakers and share your thoughts. Together, we can make Oklahoma a better state for our youngest residents!
Joe Dorman is director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. Founded in 1983, OICA was created to create a strong advocacy network and voice for Oklahoma children and youth, especially those in state care and those growing up in poverty. , violence, abuse and neglect, disparities or other situations that put their lives and future at risk.