What Legislation Do You Have on Your Bracket?

OKLAHOMA CITY – This is my favorite time of the year. The winter weather is finally starting to move on, outdoor activities ramp up, and I get to cultivate hot peppers and other vegetables in my garden. While I love all of that, to me the best part of spring is “March Madness,” with the different college basketball teams vying for the chance to win a national championship.

The furor generated by this competition, both for men and women, allows for these athletes to have the opportunity to represent their school, showcase their talent. and possibly move on to a career in professional athletics.

Spring’s anticipation and urgency are not just related to sports as the Oklahoma Legislature is also hard at work, with individual lawmakers working to keep their bills moving. This week brings us to the second legislative deadline for the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the State Senate.

This current deadline is when bills passed by a committee in the house of origin must be considered by the full House of Representatives or Senate. All bills heard and passed by the end of work on Thursday, March 24, will then move to the “opposite body.” The process starts again with House bills being considered in Senate committees and vice versa.

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is working to encourage hearings for some of these bills, essentially acting out the part of the rowdy fans in the stands cheering these ideas to advance. We maintain a tracking list of legislation impacting children, with about 75 measures left that we are monitoring.

Just like filling out an NCAA basketball tournament bracket, we have several bills on this list that we hope will advance. There are also bills that we are rooting against, hoping they fall short of reaching the final step in this version of “March Madness,” the governor’s desk. Our standard is this: if a bill helps improve the quality of life for Oklahoma’s children, we are fans; if it does not help the state’s children, we will oppose the idea.

If you would like to be a part of this effort, there will be a golden opportunity to help support the OICA team and the children we represent next week. You can join us at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Monday, March 28, for our “Child Advocacy Day.”

Advocates from around the state will be there to help promote ideas to lawmakers, and OICA will host its 2022 Chili Cook-off in the south parking lot of the State Capitol. 

Sampling chili concocted by advocates, organizations, and even some lawmakers will be free as the chili chefs seek the chili-making “one shining moment” crown.

We hope this day will provide a friendly setting for Oklahomans of all ages to come to the Capitol. It is a unique chance to learn the process while making new friends and developing contacts with officials who would benefit from those real-world experiences and stories from those working to help children.

While I cannot be in the stands this year to root on the teams I support, I will instead be at the Oklahoma State Capitol fighting for our state’s children and hoping to get meaningful legislation signed into law. If you would like more details, go to https://oica.org to learn how to be a part.

I hope to see you there with us “in the game” which will ensue over the next two months as we fulfill our mission to make Oklahoma the best state possible for children.

About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action, and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”