Legislative Update

I have a special place in my heart for the men and women who defend our freedoms. As someone who witnessed firsthand the terrible tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, I thank them for their efforts on behalf of our country.

I am pleased to co-author a bill that passed unanimously to allow the families of fallen military servicemen and women to attend Oklahoma colleges and universities for free. The bipartisan bill would provide in-state tuition waivers to the dependents of Oklahoma military servicemen and women killed in the line of duty for up to 48 months.

On Friday, March 6, state Sen. Bryce Marlatt and I toured Dewey County to survey the damage caused by the wild fire. County officials led the tour of the thousands of acres of damage that were burned, causing the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to shut down U.S. Highway 183 between Putnam and Taloga because of the smoke. I was proud to hear of the efforts of local firefighters from several departments to contain the fire and would like to thank them on behalf of my constituents who benefitted from their protection.

I also recently met some young but very creative constituents from the Kingfisher Regional Hospital Student Governing Board. I was impressed by their approach in generating some new legislative ideas and will be looking for ways to implement those ideas. Hospital administrator Damon Benson and Rachel Cameron, School Nurse for Kingfisher Public Schools, led the group that included Robert Walker and Bryce Crawford of Kingfisher, Katie Beebe of Okarche and Nikki Bomhoff of Okarche, and Evan Shimanek and Callan Bregenzer of Hennessey.

Meanwhile, House legislators continue to pass a number of reforms meant to improve the quality of state government services in Oklahoma. One, which I believe is especially important, concerns Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services. The department has come under fire for not doing enough to keep Oklahoma families together. An extensive audit showed many ways to improve how the state handles child abuse and neglect reports. Following recommendations of the audit, the House passed a bill that would require law enforcement to consult with DHS before removing a child and would create a program to allow information about a child’s physical and behavioral health and education needs to be available electronically. The bill would also phase out public shelters and establish a centralized statewide hotline for reports of child abuse and neglect.

The loopholes that have allowed lawbreaking politicians to retain their taxpayer-funded benefits were addressed in the House this week. The legislation was passed with former state Sen. Gene Stipe in mind. The former legislator was allowed to keep his benefits despite having committed a felony because he did not get convicted while in office. I am proud to say that I voted with other legislators to close these loopholes.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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Legislative Update

This week, I am happy to report that my colleagues have passed a number of pieces of legislation I authored.

The bill that I am most proud of is one that would make agricultural tracts of land that have been annexed into a city exempt from having to follow laws passed by that city. There is already an exemption of that kind in Oklahoma law but only for tracts of land annexed into a city on or before July 1, 2003. My bill takes into account the fact that there are tracts that were annexed before that 2003 date that should clearly enjoy the same exemption. This is a common-sense protection for landowners to ensure they do not lose the use of their property if the city arbitrarily annexes it.

My bill got quite a bit of debate as there are cities that feel threatened by it. But as there are a number of representatives from rural districts such as my own, I am happy to report to you that it passed 63-34 with support from most rural representatives, both Democrat and Republican.

Another of my bills would increase the amount county governments can reward an individual for providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of someone who has defaced county property. My bill gives the county the ability to reward an individual up to $1,000 and the authority to create a fund not to exceed $2,000 from which to draw the reward from. This bill was passed unanimously.

A bill I authored to support our American Legion Posts by giving them all tax-exempt status passed out of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee unanimously. American Legion Posts have long served our communities and I thought it only right that they be given a tax exemption status, like so many other groups in Oklahoma enjoy.

Another of my bills that passed out of committee is very important to the state’s continuing efforts to maintain and repair our roads and bridges. It increases the amount of reimbursable funds for road projects from $200,000 to $400,000. This allows counties to get the work done and then request to be reimbursed.

I have mentioned before my fondness for former President Ronald Reagan. It is my pleasure to announce that I was able to co-author a resolution celebrating “Ronald Reagan Day” that was passed by the House. I was also very proud to introduce my son, born on Reagan’s birthday, and my beautiful wife, Nellie, to the Legislature.

The House has also passed a piece of pro-life legislation that would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion if they know the abortion is being requested because of the unborn child’s gender. To request an abortion for the purpose of gender selection is heinous and I am pleased to note that only four legislators voted against it.

Several energy bills were passed this week as well. One would create training for green jobs and another would give tax credits to individuals and businesses that installed geothermal heating and air units in their commercial or residential buildings.

One last area of legislation that I would like to touch upon is a bill that would protect farmers from frivolous lawsuits. This bill adds agritourism as one of the areas of agriculture under which farmers would gain some immunity from liability.

As you can see, it has been a very productive week at the Legislature.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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Sanders Appointed to Energy Council

OKLAHOMA CITY— House Speaker Chris Benge announced today that state Rep. Mike Sanders has been appointed to serve as a member of the Energy Council.

“I am very honored that Speaker Benge has appointed me to an important position having potential for such positive outcomes for this state,” said Sanders, R-Kingfisher. “Oil and gas issues are perhaps more vital to Oklahoma’s economy than in any other state—it has possibility for such an economic boom. I look forward to working with the council, serving on the House Energy and Utility Regulation Committee, and representing our state, which is leading the way in developing new energy technologies and environmental policies.”

The Energy Council is a non-profit organization formed in 1975 that promotes national energy strategies and environmental policies. The Council also endeavors to promote an understanding of energy and its role in the global economy and environment and to assist legislators in their policymaking efforts in their respective states.
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Sanders Passes First Bill

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Mike Sanders achieved his first legislative success today when the House voted to approve his House Bill 1467.

“I am very pleased to see my first bill pass easily and with no debate,” Sanders, R-Kingfisher, said. “House Bill 1467 is a common-sense measure that simply adds kindergarten through fourth-grade math teachers to those eligible for professional development through the Oklahoma Commission for Teacher Preparation.”

Professional development is crucial to ensure high education standards in Oklahoma, Sanders said.

“I think that professional development is one of the ways in which we ensure that our teachers are as prepared as they can be to educate our young ones,” Sanders said. “As a new father, I am even more watchful of ways to help enhance Oklahoma’s education system and am proud to see that education is a priority for my colleagues as well.”

House Bill 1467 was approved by a 98-2 vote. It now awaits a hearing in the Senate.
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Sanders Votes for Resolution to Keep Gitmo Terrorists Out of Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Mike Sanders voted for a resolution passed by the House Thursday that asks President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to refrain from relocating Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees to Oklahoma prison facilities.

“I was in Washington, D.C. when the terrorists of 9/11 pulled off their cowardly attack on innocent civilians,” Sanders, R-Kingfisher, said. “I am appalled at the idea that terrorists with much of the same mentality as those 9/11 terrorists would be placed in an Oklahoma prison facility. There is no doubt in my mind that my constituents are not interested in having terrorists here in Oklahoma.”

House Resolution 1008, by state Rep. T.W. Shannon, requests that Guantanamo Bay terrorist detainees not be transferred to any prison facility in Oklahoma and specifically mentions the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, the Fort Sill Regional Confinement Center and the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City. It cites a concern that Oklahoma by housing terrorist detainees could become a terrorist target in the future.

“Our men and women of the Armed Services have bravely stepped up to wage this War on Terror,” Sanders said. “I would not have them worry about their loved ones here at home.”

House Resolution 1008 was approved by an 81-12 vote. It now awaits a hearing in the Senate.
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Legislative Update

This week, I am happy to report that my colleagues have passed a number of pieces of legislation I authored.

The bill that I am most proud of is one that would make agricultural tracts of land that have been annexed into a city exempt from having to follow laws passed by that city. There is already an exemption of that kind in Oklahoma law but only for tracts of land annexed into a city on or before July 1, 2003. My bill takes into account the fact that there are tracts that were annexed before that 2003 date that should clearly enjoy the same exemption. This is a common-sense protection for landowners to ensure they do not lose the use of their property if the city arbitrarily annexes it.

My bill got quite a bit of debate as there are cities that feel threatened by it. But as there are a number of representatives from rural districts such as my own, I am happy to report to you that it passed 63-34 with support from most rural representatives, both Democrat and Republican.

Another of my bills would increase the amount county governments can reward an individual for providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of someone who has defaced county property. My bill gives the county the ability to reward an individual up to $1,000 and the authority to create a fund not to exceed $2,000 from which to draw the reward from. This bill was passed unanimously.

A bill I authored to support our American Legion Posts by giving them all tax-exempt status passed out of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee unanimously. American Legion Posts have long served our communities and I thought it only right that they be given a tax exemption status, like so many other groups in Oklahoma enjoy.

Another of my bills that passed out of committee is very important to the state’s continuing efforts to maintain and repair our roads and bridges. It increases the amount of reimbursable funds for road projects from $200,000 to $400,000. This allows counties to get the work done and then request to be reimbursed.

I have mentioned before my fondness for former President Ronald Reagan. It is my pleasure to announce that I was able to co-author a resolution celebrating “Ronald Reagan Day” that was passed by the House. I was also very proud to introduce my son, born on Reagan’s birthday, and my beautiful wife, Nellie, to the Legislature.

The House has also passed a piece of pro-life legislation that would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion if they know the abortion is being requested because of the unborn child’s gender. To request an abortion for the purpose of gender selection is heinous and I am pleased to note that only four legislators voted against it.

Several energy bills were passed this week as well. One would create training for green jobs and another would give tax credits to individuals and businesses that installed geothermal heating and air units in their commercial or residential buildings.

One last area of legislation that I would like to touch upon is a bill that would protect farmers from frivolous lawsuits. This bill adds agritourism as one of the areas of agriculture under which farmers would gain some immunity from liability.

As you can see, it has been a very productive week at the Legislature.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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Legislative Update

Since this is my first weekly column, I want to make sure that I introduce myself to those of you who I might not have met during my campaign to be your representative in the state House.

I am a conservative Republican and a native of Western Oklahoma. Having lived here most of my life, I have seen many ways in which our state government could be modernized to save your hard-earned dollars and many ways in which our laws could be updated to better serve the education, health care and infrastructure needs of rural Oklahoma.

But before I get into the many events occurring at your state Capitol, I’d like to introduce the newest member of the Sanders family. Davis Lee Sanders was born at 11:48 a.m. Friday, Feb. 6. My wife Nellie and I are overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally, to be parents – but we also feel truly blessed. Davis is a big boy, weighing 7 pounds and 15 ounces at birth.

I should also mention that Davis was born on the same day as a favorite president of mine, Ronald Reagan. I was inclined to change his middle name to Reagan, but Nellie was able to convince me that it was in my best interest to keep the name that we had already chosen.

As for the first weeks of the 2009 legislative session, legislators have moved several bills through committee that are worthy of our attention.

School Bills
Two important bills would give schools more flexibility and local control. One bill would change the annual requirement of 180 six-hour school days to 1,080 school hours. This would allow rural schools, which are sometimes hit a bit harder by winter weather conditions, to make up snow days without adding days to their calendar. Instead, schools could just extend the length of a few school days to make up for lost time. The other would leave it to schools to set their end-of-instruction test days rather than the state board of education. Both bills give credit to the notion that every school district in Oklahoma operates under unique conditions.

Rural Tax Exemption
Another bill I have been watching with interest is entitled the “Come Home to Oklahoma Act.” It consists of a five-year tax exemption for anyone moving from out-of-state to a rural county or town that has been losing population. This measure could help draw new residents to rural Oklahoma who would then pay sales and property tax that boosts our local schools and governments.

Livestock Regulation
In both the Senate and House, bills have passed out of committee that would streamline the regulation of livestock. It would place all regulatory authority solely with the Legislature. The idea behind the legislation is to protect ranchers from being annexed into a city and then subsequently subject to laws that would interfere with livestock operations. This has become a huge problem for producers across the country.

Gov. Brad Henry, in his State of the State, has called for cuts in the traveling expenses of a number of state agencies and a slight increase in funding for education. Meanwhile, in the state House, most bills await a hearing in one of the many committees before going on to the House floor.

I will keep you regularly updated on the activities of the Legislature through this column. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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Sanders Bills to Benefit District, State

OKLAHOMA CITY –With less than a month left before session kicks off, state Rep. Mike Sanders has filed a bill giving tax credits to a non-profit organization, one protecting the rights of land owners, and two dealing with our roads and bridges.

Sanders has filed four bills that will help District #59 and all of Oklahoma.

House Bill 1473 helps landowners who use their property for agriculture by exempting them from certain municipal ordinances.

Currently, parcels of five acres or more used after July 1, 2003 for agriculture use are exempt from municipal ordinances. Sanders’ legislation will allow any landowner with 10 acres or more used for agriculture to be exempt.

“This just helps to lift some burdens on our farmers by releasing them from ordinances and permits that aren’t helping anyone,” said Sanders, R-Kingfisher.

Another bill gives tax help to a nationwide non-profit agency. House Bill 1471 provides a sales tax exemption to the American Legion branches in Oklahoma.

County commissioners may be relieved if House Bill 1472 gets passed. The bill would increase the threshold for reimbursement for county bridge repairs from $200,000 to $400,000.

“Currently, if a commissioner gets a road crew together to fix a bridge problem and it goes over $200,000 by even one dollar, they are required to get an outside engineering firm to come in and other manpower to fix the problem, raising the out-of-pocket expense on the county tremendously,” said Sanders. “In this economic crisis, we need to do whatever we can to lend a helping hand to our counties.”

Another bill to help counties and Oklahoma drivers would increase the reward for the arrest and conviction, or for evidence leading to the arrest and conviction of any person stealing or defacing county road signs or any other county property. Currently, the reward for this information does not exceed $100 but if House Bill 1470 becomes law it would allow counties to pay up to $1,000 in reward money at their discretion.

“I could not have asked for a better freshman year to serve as representative. We are on the road to accomplish many things that will help this state and improve life for all Oklahoma families and for this state as a whole.”
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Mike Announces Candidacy

Mike Sanders Announces for State Representative


Citing his experience in public service, Mike Sanders announced Monday his candidacy for state representative in House District 59.

“I have a passion to serve and a desire to make a difference for western Oklahoma. This is my home and where I was raised, and I very much enjoy serving my friends and neighbors. I am a committed conservative, a man of faith and have demonstrated responsibility and character throughout my career.”

“I am known as a hard-worker and I know that I can make a difference for our communities if I am elected,” Sanders said.

Sanders says he will work to reduce income taxes, support traditional family values, strengthen schools with higher standards, reform the workers compensation system and make roads and highways a priority. He is also committed to working towards a successful future for rural communities. “I am a fierce advocate for western Oklahoma, our heritage and our way of life,” he says.

Sanders had opportunities early in life to make a difference. He demonstrated leadership skills and proved that he is capable and responsible.

At a young age, he worked on President George W. Bush’s campaign. After demonstrating leadership and integrity, Sanders was charged with taking over as the Director of Interns for the Bush White House. In that time, he oversaw more than 1000 interns. He instituted new codes of conduct and new policies that returned stature to the program.

Sanders’ success led to more responsibility and more ability to make a difference for western Oklahoma. He was appointed by the President to serve as the Deputy Chief of Staff of Rural Development for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). He coordinated and consulted with the agency’s 47 state directors and served as an official spokesman and as liaison between the under secretary and various offices within the USDA.

Sanders then became the Senior Advisor to the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service where he continued his work for rural Oklahoma.

Sanders was instrumental in helping to rebuild the 89er Theatre in Kingfisher. Not only did he usher the process through to completion on the ground, but he also was actively involved in bringing federal funding to the project.

Sanders is involved in the community through the Knights of Columbus #3113, Kingfisher Elks Lodge, and the NRA. He is also a lifetime member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders and has served in many leadership positions with the Kingfisher County Republican Party, including serving as Chairman from 1999-2001.

Sanders also had the honor of serving on the Council for Small Business for Governor Frank Keating and Lt. Governor Mary Fallin from 1999-2003.

Sanders graduated from Kingfisher High School in 1993, and from Oklahoma Christian University in 1997 with a degree in History and Pre-Law. He currently works for the family business, Sanders Funeral Service and attends Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Sanders is engaged to be married to Nellie Tayloe Ross. They will be married in May.
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