Group Also Lauds Three Retiring Lawmakers for Career Achievements
OKLAHOMA CITY – Each year, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) examines the voting records of members of the Oklahoma Legislature to determine how child-friendly each lawmaker’s record is.
From that nonpartisan evaluation of the voting records of all 100 state representatives (one seat is vacant due to a resignation) and 48 state senators, four lawmakers were named “Children’s Legislators of the Year.” In addition, three retiring members of the Legislature were honored for the achievements in child advocacy they have made during their entire legislative careers.
“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 grateful for their work.”
The “Children’s Legislators of the Year” awards in the Oklahoma Senate go to Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, and Sen. Kay Floyd, Senate Democratic Leader from Oklahoma City. House of Representatives members honored with “Children’s Legislator of the Year” designations are Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-Oklahoma City.
Senator Garvin noted her life before her election to the Senate as influencing her to fight for children. “My husband has worked with children and families through DHS for over 15 years,” she related. “I see the work he and his colleagues do every day to advocate for the most vulnerable children and young adults in this state; his stories and service have developed a passion in me for using this position to make lives better for not only those he serves, but for every child in our state. It is humbling to be recognized as the Republican Legislator of the Year, because groups like OICA, and people like my husband, have set a very high standard for what a hero for youth looks like.”
Senator Floyd said she was honored to work with OICA. “The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is committed to the well-being of the children, youth, and families of the state of Oklahoma, and I am honored to work with them as a member of the Oklahoma Early Childhood Legislative Caucus.”
Representative Boatman reflected on OICA’s history in accepting his award. “OICA has long been a powerful advocate of children in our state, and I am honored and humbled to be recognized by them in this way.”
Representative Bennett said, “I’m grateful for the recognition from OICA, and for OICA itself. Their work to keep the issues that matter most for Oklahoma’s kids at the forefront is vitally important, and I’m glad I can be a small part of the effort.”
Three retiring lawmakers honored for their career service are Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, one of last year’s “Legislators of the Year,” Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Emily Virgin, the House Democratic Leader from Norman.
“Our children are our future!” asserted Senator David. “I’ve been proud to support OICA in helping families and ensuring that we have the right tools in place for a brighter future for all of our children.”
Representative Bush said, “It is an honor to be recognized as retiring Legislator of the Year. For six years, my legislative focus has been on child abuse prevention, trauma-informed care, and child sex abuse. While we have made some steps in the right direction, we have a long way to go.
“OICA and its community partners have always led the charge in protecting Oklahoma's children and I look forward to working with them as we continue to protect all children from harm,” Bush related.
Representative Virgin was proud to partner with OICA. “Partnering with the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy in their fight to improve the lives of children has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my legislative career,” she said. “I have a deep appreciation for the entire organization and the work they do.”
In all, 20 of the 148 members of the Oklahoma Legislature received perfect scores on the scorecard, meaning they supported children on each one of the measures before them; 13 lawmakers voted for children’s issues on all but one of the bills scored. The full scorecard, including lawmakers’ votes and summaries of the bills scored, can be downloaded at https://oica.org/2022-childrens-legislative-agenda/
Dorman concluded by noting that even though the 2022 session just adjourned, and special sessions are looming, OICA is already working with lawmakers for next year’s session of the Oklahoma Legislature, requesting interim studies on critical children’s issues.
“Our work 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.”
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.”