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Young State Lawmakers Establish Bipartisan Oklahoma Future Caucus

Oklahoma Senate

Young Democrats and Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature have established a Future Caucus for members 45 and under to work together on issues Millennials and younger generations face.

"Young people are identifying less with either political party in a decline of party affiliation. Instead, they’re united by specific issues that impact their future," said Rep. Ajay Pittman (D-Oklahoma City), the group's House Democratic chair.

Pittman said those issues include college debt, jobs and health care.

Sen. John Michael Montgomery (R-Lawton) is the group’s Senate Republican chair. He said lawmakers already reach across the aisle on a regular basis, but it’s important to highlight those efforts in divisive times.

"It falls to the elected officials to set the example and set the standard that we can work together on issues that unite us," Montgomery said.

The caucus’ four co-chairs will have their own areas of policy focus. Montgomery’s is financial literacy and wellness. Pittman's is health care. Sen. Carri Hicks (D-Oklahoma City), the Senate Democratic chair, will look at policies that encourage young Oklahomans to make the state their home.

"The Millennial brain drain, or the exodus of young professionals and recent graduates from this state is hitting Oklahoma incredibly hard; however, I believe this presents a unique opportunity for us to attract and retain talent," Hicks said.

Rep. Judd Strom (R-Copan), the House Republican chair, will focus on connectivity. Strom said lawmakers often get caught up in the day-to-day maintenance of state government, work he refers to as "trimming the lawn."

"My hope is that the Future Caucus will give us the opportunity to come together from across the aisle and from across the rotunda  as Oklahomans to find common ground, to survey the landscape and to plant trees, the shade of which might be enjoyed for generations to come," Strom said.

Oklahoma becomes the 30th state to establish a future caucus … an initiative driven by the Millennial Action Project.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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