Committee Work

By Rep. Mike Sanders

This week, House lawmakers began their work to review the nearly 1,000 bills filed.Committees either accept bills as is, improve upon them or vote no. There are plenty of bills that deserve scrutiny and many of them will not go beyond this step of the process.

As the chair of the transportation budget subcommittee, my work focuses on our roads and bridges. This week, we began the work of vetting all transportation bills filed by the 101 members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Our state not only needs modern roads and bridges, but also modern laws that help increase the safety of Oklahomans. Thiscommittee is where we work to create good public policy on our roads.

First, I should note that my House Bill 2289 was approved in the committee and then also on the House floor. It modifies a notice requirement for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation agents. Currently, they are allowed to go on private property while surveying and conducting other business in their daily work on behalf of roads and bridges. However, they are required to notify property owners. My bill changes the notice requirement to the use of first-class rather than just registered mail.

Second, we approved House Bill 3167, which I believe will increase public safety. It removes speed limits that are set in Oklahoma law on turnpikes and four-lane highways. Currently, those speed limits are arbitrary. Going forward, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will determine appropriate speed limits based on engineering studies to determine the condition of the road and other factors. In some cases, this could lead to higher speed limits if appropriate and, in others, lower speed limits.

Third, I have an announcement on a local transportation project. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has programmed a project to mill the existing surface failures out and replace them with new asphalt pavement in Okarche and Piedmont. In Okarche, the targeted section of road will be from Stroh Avenue south to the US81 interchange. Both the northbound and southbound outside lanes will be milled and filled. In Piedmont, the section of road will be each side of State Highway 3 to the State Highway 4 signal light in Piedmont. This project will be discussed and approved in the March meeting and would likely begin in early summer. Its present estimate is $420,000. Improvements at both these locations will make for a much improved ride.

Finally, state legislators continue to discuss the plight of children in our state. Currently, there is a great need for more foster families. We desperately need more Oklahomans to step up. Gov. Mary Fallin is using her prominent position to get the word out and I would like to join her in doing so. If you think you are able to provide love for a child, without the intent of adopting them but instead just to get them through a difficult time in their lives, I would encourage you to go to the DHS website and fill out the required application. The more applications they get though, the more foster care families we will have available for children in need.

In next week’s column, I will continue to discuss the progress of bills in the early weeks of session. As always, I can be reached at (405) 557-7407 or mike.sanders@okhouse.gov.


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