Legislative Studies Yield Food for Thought

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Lawmakers are currently studying ideas that could translate into legislation for the 2012 legislative session. Recent topics have included tornado safety, additional spending limits on the Oklahoma Legislature and state gun laws.

In the tornado safety study, we learned that improper installation is a large factor in whether or not a mobile home can withstand severe weather. While current standards of installation are appropriate, there are many homes that were installed long ago, before the current standards. We will be studying the feasibility of inspecting older mobile homes. At the end of the day, it is the personal responsibility of each homeowner to make sure that their homes are safe and families are protected.

Currently, state lawmakers are limited in their spending by a requirement to balance the budget and to restrict the annual growth of expenditures by 12 percent. One lawmaker plans to introduce legislation to further restrict that growth. Her study showed that state government growth has regularly exceeded private sector growth. The public sector should never outgrow the private sector; that’s the problem with our federal government. I plan to support her legislation.

The legislative review of current state gun laws included testimony from Oklahoma City University law professor Michael O’Shea, a nationally recognized expert on the Second Amendment. O’Shea told lawmakers the Oklahoma Self Defense Act is unreasonably harsh in its concealment provision. The Oklahoma law states that the gun must be completely concealed from view and detection, meaning even accidental exposure of the weapon is a crime. Legislators are considering a wide range of issues, including modifying the weapons permitting process, open carry, and even possible constitutional issues that may need to be addressed in light of certain court rulings. I welcome your input on these topics.

In closing, I have recently received calls about the political climate in our nation and politicians using taxpayer dollars to furnish perks and trips around the country. I believe that all politicians should be held accountable for how they spend taxpayer funds, including the President. I do, however, believe it is important to learn about successful programs in other states, to further our advancement in Oklahoma. I have had the privilege of participating in two out-of-state trips on behalf of rural firefighters since being elected in 2008. I paid for my portion of both trips with money from my campaign fund instead of using taxpayer dollars or state fire marshall funding; most recently paying to travel with the Tenth Annual Oklahoma State Fire Marshall Ambassador Trip. We visited the national firefighter academy in Emittsburg, Penn., and learned about cutting-edge firefighting techniques we plan to share with rural volunteer firefighters in Oklahoma. Next, we traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with FEMA officials and the Oklahoma federal delegation. We discussed what Oklahoma firefighters are accomplishing and the importance of federal firefighter grants. I especially enjoyed speaking with U.S. Congressman Frank Lucas and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe. We also visited a Washington, D.C., fire station and learned about their firefighting methods. All in all, it was a great trip and highly educational.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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