OKLAHOMA CITY – Last week, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) released its legislative scorecard for the 1st Session of the 58th Oklahoma Legislature. The scorecard detailed lawmakers’ records on children’s issues.
From that nonpartisan evaluation of the voting records of all 101 state representatives and 48 state senators, six lawmakers were named “Children’s Legislators of the Year.”
“Our ‘Children’s Legislators of the Year’ awards honor those state representatives and senators who have gone above and beyond the call of duty on behalf of Oklahoma’s children,” said Joe Dorman, OICA’s CEO. “These are special lawmakers who put Oklahoma’s children first, and we are honored to announce them.”
The “Children’s Legislators of the Year” awards in the Oklahoma Senate go to Sen. Kim David, Senate majority leader and a Republican from Porter; Sen. Carri Hicks, D-Oklahoma City; and Sen. Roger Thompson, Senate Appropriations Committee chair, R-Okemah. Members of the House of Representatives earning “Children’s Legislators of the Year” awards are Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay; Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman; and Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, the House’s Appropriations & Budget Committee chair.
Senator David was appreciative of the honor. “Improving the future of Oklahoma is how we make the lives of children better, not only today but throughout their lives,” she said. “Working with OICA is a pleasure, and I look forward to helping develop more family- and child-friendly agendas in the years ahead.”
Senator Thompson said his work on the annual budget is only a part of his work to make the state a better place for its youngest residents. “The most important job we have at the Capitol is to make sure the next generation is better off than previous ones,” said the Republican from Okemah. “I am grateful for OICA’s recognition of my work. It is an honor to work alongside them as we work together for a better future for our state’s children.”
Senator Hicks said she was honored by the recognition. “I ran for office with the focus on children and families,” said the Oklahoma City Democrat. “We must continue to find meaningful ways to serve the most vulnerable in our state and prioritize their health and well-being. I am grateful for the work of the Oklahoma Institute of Child Advocacy to promote policy that improves the lives of our children.”
The members of the House of Representatives who earned the designation were also pleased. Rep. Cynthia Roe said improving the lives of the state’s youngest residents is a worthwhile cause. “There is no more important role of government than to protect and nurture our children,” she said. “More than for anyone else, our focus must be on our children, and I am proud to stand with OICA in their efforts to make Oklahoma a better state.”
Rep. Jacob Rosecrants was the only lawmaker among the 149 representatives and senators who had a perfect score on children’s issues. “I ran for office with one mission in mind: helping kids in any way I can,” he said. “This passion for helping kids drove me to become a teacher, and it is what drives me as a legislator every single day. Positive change requires the efforts of teachers, parents, students, and advocates across our state. I am proud to stand with OICA, and I look forward to the work ahead.”
Rep. Kevin Wallace said his work as House Appropriations & Budget Chairman is important in the effort to improve children’s lives. “A budget is a reflection of our values as a state,” he said. “That is why I work to ensure that Oklahoma’s children are the highest priority as we develop the state’s annual budget. I appreciate OICA’s recognition of the work so many of us do to make Oklahoma the best state it can be for our children.”
In addition, OICA noted the extraordinary records of freshman lawmakers on children’s issues. “Freshman Legislators of the Year” are Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, Sen. JoAnna Dossett, D-Tulsa, Rep. Anthony Moore, R-Clinton, and Rep. Jose Cruz, D-Oklahoma City. Two veteran representatives – Rep. Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle, and Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang – received the “Special Attention Award” for their work on behalf of the state’s children.
Senator Garvin said she looked forward to continuing her work on behalf of children. “This award is a tremendous honor,” she said. “I am grateful and pledge to keep fighting for our state’s children.”
Senator Dossett said the focus of every session should be children. “There is no greater reason for our work at the Capitol,” she asserted. “Thanks to OICA for the award and for their work on behalf of children.”
Representative Moore said he was especially grateful for to recognition. “I’m extremely grateful for the award and look forward to continuing the fight for our children,” he said.
Representative Cruz echoed that sentiment. “There are a lot of voices at the State Capitol,” he noted. “I am glad mine was one child advocates heard as being in their corner.”
Representative Conley not only fights for children in Oklahoma, but she is also a member of the national Trauma Awareness Committee, and she was noted for her work on trauma-informed issues relating to children. “I am proud to have the opportunity to advocate for children and families all over America,” she said. “It was especially important here in Oklahoma for us to pass House Bill 1773, which will add essential pre-certification training for our teachers designed to help children help build well-rounded lives.”
Representative Hill was cited for his work to pass House Bill 1709, which expanded the number of foster children who could receive services. “The more Oklahomans see the importance of working on behalf of our children, the more likely they are to join,” he said. “There is no higher honor than fighting for children, and I pledge to continue that fight so long as I can.”
Dorman concluded by noting that even though the 2021 session adjourned barely a month ago, OICA is already working with lawmakers on the 2022 session of the Oklahoma Legislature. “Our work really never ends,” he said. “We look forward to continuing our work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and from all areas of the state to improve the lives of our state’s children. Working together, we will continue to make progress for our state’s most important resource, our children.”