House Speaker Approves 59 Legislative Studies

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

House Speaker Kris Steele approved 59 legislative studies on Friday, July 13. I serve as the vice chair of the House Human Services Committee, to which five studies were assigned. Nine more studies were assigned to two other committees on which I serve.

The Public Safety studies touch on a number of important topics, including the safety of our roads, human trafficking, prison staffing, juvenile justice and boat safety at state parks and lakes. We are currently facing a staffing problem in our state prisons – to the point that at times there is a single prison guard in charge of a large group of prisoners. This problem must be addressed for both the safety of current guards and our communities. Human trafficking most often involves crimes against young adults and children. It is a terrible, often hidden danger in our communities.

Government modernizations studies include a review of past reforms and ideas for future reforms. There will also be a study of the legislative process. A third study will examine fleet reforms. The intent of government modernization is to create efficiencies so that Oklahomans can receive the same services at a lower cost.

There are four budgetary studies. We will be looking at alternative ways to fund the repair of the Oklahoma State Capitol. This past session, lawmakers rejected a proposed bond issue on the grounds that there is money to fund these repairs if we can cut waste out of the budget. The budget committee will also review state and federal matching programs and employee compensation.

One particularly exciting study will examine ways to speed up the process of repairing deficient bridges. Currently, we are on track to have all deficient bridges repaired in the next seven years. We would like to shave more time off that plan, and this will be our opportunity to look into how to manage that feat.

These studies are the preliminary step in creating pieces of legislation that will be filed for the 2013 legislative session. It’s critical that we push legislation that is data-driven and not based on anecdotal information or false assumptions.

During the interim I will be traveling the district, but will regularly check the calls I receive at the Capitol office at (405) 557-7407.

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