Budget a Priority

By Rep. Mike Sanders

This is a busy time in the House of Representatives as we continue to consider legislation and work on balancing the state budget.

Last week, the House voted to give the Department of Human Services $34 million in supplemental funding for this fiscal year. This allows developmentally disabled adults and seniors on Medicaid to continue to receive medicine and services in their homes instead of having to move into an institutional setting.

House appropriations and budget subcommittees are meeting with state agencies to get an in-depth look at their fiscal year 2018 budgets. All representatives have been asked to rotate through each committee so they have a better appreciation of the state’s overall budget. We have to consider not just our current budget but long-term restructuring.

The House Appropriations & Budget Committee met this week to consider almost 20 Senate Bills. Other House committees also are meeting in advance of approaching deadlines. April 13 is the deadline for all Senate bills to pass in House committees, except for those considered by the full A&B Committee. That deadline is April 20. The floor deadline for third reading of bills and resolutions from the opposite chamber is April 27. If a bill passes as is, it goes to the governor. If it is amended, it goes back to the chamber of origin. If the amendment is not accepted, the bill could go to conference committee, where representatives and senators discuss final language.

The speaker of the House and the Senate president pro-tempore as well as full A&B committee chairs can bring bills at any time.

Also this week, the House observed National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. I am a primary author of House Resolution 1009, which honors the men, women and children who have been victimized in the state of Oklahoma and the strength they exhibit as they work to overcome adversity.

According to recently released statistics by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Oklahoma experienced 16,506 violent crimes in 2015, including 234 murders and non-negligent manslaughters, 1,849 reports of rape, 3,005 robberies and 11,418 aggravated assaults.

These victims deserve equal rights in our justice system. Earlier this session, we passed a number of bills that will help victims receive rights and protections co-equal to those provided to those accused and convicted of crimes. This week creates awareness for victims and lets them know we hear and remember their cause; we stand with them; we will treat them with fairness and respect.

On a final note, I along with many others in my district am thanking the good Lord for the recent rain! I know many people in Western Oklahoma are struggling to recover from the recent wildfires that took several lives and many animals as well as caused major property damage. If there is anything at all I can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. I can be contacted at Mike.Sanders@OKHouse.Gov or(405) 557-7407.


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