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Four State Lawmakers Form Legislative Latino Caucus

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Four state lawmakers announced Wednesday they have created a new bipartisan, bicameral Legislative Latino Caucus.

Sen. Michael Brooks (D-Oklahoma City) said their goal as a caucus is not only to bring Latinos’ concerns and contributions to the capitol, but also to help them better understand what goes on at 23rd and Lincoln.

"Latinos are the fastest-growing minority group in the state of Oklahoma. We’re probably upwards of close to a half million people, we have 10,000 business owners in the Latino community and [in] several school districts, over half of the students are Latino," Brooks said.

According to census data, more than 11% of Oklahomans identify as Latino.

Sen. Jessica Garvin (R-Duncan) said access to education and health care are priorities for her, and that means more than bringing additional teachers and doctors to the state.

"So, my dad is fluent in Spanish, and he is one of the only physicians in Stephens County that is able to translate and speak to Latinos in our area, in our entire county," Garvin said.

Rep. Ryan Martinez (R-Edmond) said the caucus will also seek to inspire young Latinos in Oklahoma.

"Being that face and showing the next generation that you are very much part of Oklahoma and you can lead and be part of the conversation," Martinez said.

Rep. José Cruz (D-Oklahoma City) is the other member of the caucus.

Asked whether the group would take on immigration issues, Brooks said immigration is a federal matter.

The four founding caucus members will spend time with Latino communities and leaders in their districts after the current session. Lawmakers representing districts with significant Latino populations could be invited to join the caucus next session.

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