By Rep. Mike Sanders
Interim studies have started at the Capitol. The first two focused on building and roofing contractor, subcontractor and consumer issues. In the next few weeks, there will be studies on lease revenue bonds, agency streamlining, outstanding debt owed to state agencies, a review of the state’s pension system and others.
Some of these titles might seem of little interest to the average person. When you consider, however, that each measure could potentially have an impact on the state budget – which could mean greater savings to taxpayers and more funding for core government services, then they start to sound more important.
On Sept. 14, I will co-sponsor an interim study that deals with funding for juvenile detention centers. Earlier this year, the Office of Juvenile Affairs threatened to close several regional juvenile detention centers in the state, saying the agency didn’t have the money to continue operations after changing their funding formula.
I and other lawmakers found out about the proposal in time to stop it. I would welcome the day we had no further need for such centers, but unfortunately the fact is sometimes youth break the laws in a significant enough way that we owe it to the rest of society to detain them until they can be rehabilitated.
Keeping our small, regional juvenile detention centers open keeps these youth closer to their families and provides our rural communities with needed job opportunities.
During the upcoming study, I and the other legislators will examine OJA’s funding formula to help determine potential savings as well as ways the state can possibly offer better funding solutions for the agency as they continue their work.
The regular legislative session is so jam-packed with reading numerous bills, keeping track of changes as each vote takes place, preparing for and attending committee meetings, and meeting with numerous concerned parties, it’s sometimes hard to study an issue as thoroughly as we’d like. Interim studies give us time to really delve into topics and hear from constituents and consumers as well as industry or agency experts. They give us a chance to study an issue from all sides to see the consequences of legislation on all populations. Many budget decisions are made in this interimstudy period. Many belief systems are formed or reinforced. It’s an important time for lawmakers, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to participate on issues that have great impact for my district.
To see a calendar of interim studies by committee, click the link below, then select to view by the week or month:http://www.okhouse.gov/Committees/MeetingNotices.aspx
As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be contacted at Mike.Sanders@OKHouse.Gov or (405) 557-7407.