Last week we continued our work in committees and on the Senate floor. Our next legislative deadlines are April 11, when House measures must be out of Senate committees and April 25, which is the deadline for the third reading in the opposite chamber.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has partnered with several other organizations across the state to bring awareness to this issue.

In 2016, the state had almost 81,000 total referrals for child abuse and neglect, with about 35,000 of those reports referred for further investigation.

These are concerning statistics, as there were more than 14,000 victims of child abuse or neglect in Oklahoma that same year, marking a rate of 14.9 victims per 1,000 children.

Of those kids, more than 79% were neglected, 14.6 percent were physically abused and 4.5 percent were sexually abused.

The statistics serve as a reminder that every possible effort should be made in preventing child abuse in Oklahoma.

Each of us has a legal responsibility to report suspected child abuse or neglect. If you suspect a child is being abused, please report it to the DHS Abuse and Neglect hotline at 1-800-522-3511. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Also last week, we recognized Agriculture Day at the Capitol. We had several groups here visiting and we saw Gov. Stitt, Senate Pro Tem Treat, and Speaker McCall all “drive” to work on tractors at the Capitol on Tuesday morning in celebration of agriculture in Oklahoma.

As one of Oklahoma's leading industries, agriculture and its associated production, processing and marketing segments together provide many jobs across the state.

The agriculture economy is vital to fueling our state’s economy with far-reaching impacts across both urban and rural communities.

Senator Wayne Shaw (R-Grove) serves District 3 in the Oklahoma State Senate. He may be contacted at 405-521-5574 or shaw@oksenate.gov. His office is in Room 233 at the capitol building.