For the Children: 2019 Legislative Session Marked by Both Victories and Defeats

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Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman

The end of the 2019 legislative session has arrived. While there were some great ideas passed into law and a budget that provided additional funding to many worthy causes, there were also several issues left unaddressed.

For instance, the restoration of the refundability of the Earned Income Tax Credit – which would lift thousands of families out of poverty – did not receive consideration this year. Similarly, an “Oklahoma Plan” for using federal funds to reduce the uninsured rate never materialized, though there was an initiative petition filed by citizens to send this proposal to the voters.

Criminal Justice Reform was a mixed bag. House Bill 1269 passed, making the provisions in State Question 780 retroactive. This means that non-violent offenders previously convicted of simple drug possession will have an opportunity for early release through the pardon and parole process. However, other reform measures failed or were ignored – including bail reform – that are important to pursue if we are serious about reducing Oklahoma’s nation-leading incarceration rates. We hope more progress is made on this front in 2020.

 

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