Hello again, everyone! Throughout my legislative career – and really, my entire life – I always have believed we must do everything possible to help children.
As many of you know, Deena and I struggled for years to become parents before the Lord blessed us with Jacob. That struggle, and then holding my precious newborn son three years ago, strengthened my unshakeable belief that our best efforts should be for our most precious resource.
Oklahoma’s children face many challenges. Nothing done at the State Capitol is more important than removing those challenges, giving every child the best chance to become what God intends.
Too many children in Oklahoma face the specter of poverty. Last year, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy inducted me into its Hall of Fame for my efforts against childhood poverty.
Health issues follow our children. One of the most serious is autism, which is why I am so passionate about providing health insurance coverage for disorder.
Children must have the best education possible. Much of my time at the Capitol is dedicated to improving and funding Oklahoma’s educational system.
There is evil in this world, predators that would exploit or harm our children. That is why I fought so hard to impose the death penalty or life without parole on repeat child molesters.
If you added it up, most bills introduced by my colleagues and me every year are about improving the lives of Oklahoma children. There are many of us rowing the boat, but even if there are plenty of rowers, we will go nowhere if we are not rowing in the same direction.
That is why I agreed when Lt. Gov. Jari Askins asked if I would introduce legislation to enact her proposal to create a Children’s Cabinet. Oklahoma would become the 16th state to bring together many of the agencies and organizations whose mission it is to improve children’s lives.
The goal is simple: to make certain the agencies working on behalf of children work closely and develop well-coordinated plans. In essence, to make sure they are all rowing the boat in the same direction.
The cabinet would streamline programs, leading to better services for Oklahoma’s children. With no additional cost to the state, we will get more for every dollar we invest in our most precious resource.
Senate Bill 697 will be heard this week in the Senate Rules Committee – a panel that rarely gives any bill a hearing. I am grateful to the committee’s chairman – Senator Jonathan Nichols, a Republican from of Norman – for granting the hearing.
We worked together on the death penalty for child molesters, and I know of his commitment to Oklahoma’s children. Just like that effort, this bill to enact a Children’s Cabinet is more proof that when we reach across party lines, it is Oklahomans who will win.
Thanks again for reading this week’s “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.