Week two of the session is behind us, and it was a virtual whirlwind. As chair of the Senate Finance Committee, we continued working through bills that directly impact the economic structure of state government and the core services Oklahomans depend upon. I was also called upon to preside over the full Senate as well as presenting my own bills in the various committees they were assigned to for the 2019 session.
Ideas for legislation can come from a variety of sources. Sometimes members are approached by a state agency that has identified a function that can be better performed through an update of the statutes. Sometimes we’re approached by advocacy organizations about a particular proposal, such as an issue impacting seniors. Sometimes I am contacted by a citizen about a problem they’ve encountered that they hope to help other Oklahomans avoid.
I’m carrying two bills that are aimed at supporting Oklahoma families and each of these came to me from constituents who had faced very difficult situations and wanted to help changes things to help others in similar circumstances.
There is nothing more joyful and exciting than learning your family is going to be welcoming a new member — but sometimes, tragedy strikes. A time of great joy can suddenly become a time of tremendous sadness and emotional shock when a pregnancy ends in a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Various hospitals handle these situations in different ways — some may provide more thorough information than others. The issue of the remains is difficult, but it is information that bereaved parents need and may not think to ask about in the midst of their loss. While I am still fine-tuning this legislation, I have learned from my constituent that in some hospitals, there is room for improvement in providing such information to families. I am honored to help facilitate this effort.
Even with a healthy pregnancy and delivery, there can still be other complications after the birth that can have extremely negative impacts on mothers, babies and families. Postpartum depression is a serious and often untreated mental health issue that can leave both mothers and their babies at risk, but far too many mothers do not get the treatment they need.
A new mother may see their own doctor a couple of weeks after the birth, then maybe a month or so later. Her doctor may not see the signs of post-partum depression or even ask about it, but the symptoms can snowball, severely impacting a mother’s ability to bond and care for her child and for herself.
But what if there was another way to check and see how that new mom is doing? While she may only see her obstetrician a couple of times after the birth, she will be taking her baby for regular appointments with the pediatrician. One idea is to utilize those pediatric visits as a way to touch base with new mothers and do very quick screenings for postpartum depression. It would be yet another way to support families while addressing an important area of mental health.
If you have any questions about legislation or other issues dealing with state government, please contact me at 405-521-5592, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for allowing me to be your voice in the Oklahoma State Senate.