Legislative Studies Approved

By Rep. Mike Sanders

I am pleased to say that all but one of the legislative studies I mentioned in last week’s column were approved by House Speaker Kris Steele. Speaker Steele has also created a new protocol for the studies. In the past, the findings of each study were generally given verbally to the House members. The new protocol requires a report to be created for each study. The intent is to increase the transparency of the process.

Instead of separate studies to study public safety in severe weather, three requests were combined into one comprehensive study. I had also mentioned that there was a request to study best practices in education reform. Although that request was not approved, other education studies were approved, including a study of how to ensure more education dollars are spent directly in the classroom.

There is one study that I think school administrators will want to keep an eye on. The study will examine the ramifications of deregulating school districts in Oklahoma. Many school district administrators complain that state mandates add to their burden rather than helping to address specific problems in the local school district. As an advocate of local control, I look forward to the conclusions of this study.

As a firm proponent of small government, I look forward to the findings of a study to examine agency and process consolidation in order to better streamline state services. I believe that the state can provide core services for less cost and that by eliminating duplicative services and agencies, we can afford to lower the state income tax.

Another study will examine funding for county roads and bridge projects. There are billions of dollars worth of county projects in Oklahoma. This study will look at various sources of revenue to see if that revenue would be better directed toward county road and bridge projects. Some of the revenue streams that will be examined include motor vehicle tag money and gross production taxes.

The dates of the various studies and who will participate in them will be released in the fall, closer to when they are held.

I also wanted to mention that an Oklahoma senator is challenging the state Senate redistricting plan. I believe that this challenge is frivolous and a waste of taxpayer dollars. The redistricting was done fairly and according to the letter of the law. I also question the senator’s decision to wait until the very end of the 60-day challenge period. Doing so draws out the process as long as possible, likely because the challenge has little merit. If the plan is so wrong, why wasn’t this legal challenge filed in May. I consider it political grandstanding at its finest.

Woodward has been nominated as one of the 15th friendliest towns in the United States by Rand McNally. I wish the fine folks of Woodward my best wishes and will keep my fingers crossed that they earn this coveted designation.

On a sad note, Margaret Senn, wife of former Kingfisher County Commissioner Henry Senn passed away this week. Nellie and I send our condolences and will keep the Senn family in our thoughts and prayers.

I look forward to new constituent requests that I can turn into legislation next year. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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