By Rep. Mike Sanders
State lawmakers have begun their legislative studies, which will help shape the policy proposals put forward in 2016. Legislative studies are conducted in House committee rooms, where legislators hear from state agencies, think tanks and policy researchers on ideas for improvements to our laws and state services.
Although I will participate in multiple studies, my primary focus will be organizing a study on addressing DUIs. The October study will include the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and a representative from the Governor’s Impaired Driving Prevention Advisory Council. The issue at hand is what to do about repeat DUI offenders who have not yet been convicted, but are committing multiple violations over the course of a short period. Potential legislation, depending on the feedback we receive from our policy experts, could take many forms, but at least one idea I am considering is linking municipal and state DUI tracking systems to help officers identify repeat offenders. The ultimate goal is to protect Oklahomans from individuals with serious substance abuse problems that are on our roads.
I am also interested in a September study on uninsured motorists. These motorists include illegal immigrants who cannot get insurance, individuals who have little money or individuals who are not legally allowed on the road. When an uninsured motorist injures another motorist or damages personal property, they do not have insurance to help pay for medical treatment and repairs. We have worked to make laws to deter this behavior, but it persists. The study should inform us of the scope of the problem today and present potential solutions.
After creating the open carry law in Oklahoma, there continues to be discussion over how to reduce the costs and increase the convenience of obtaining an open carry license. Another September study will examine the fees and procedure involved in getting an open carry license with the intent of removing some of those barriers.
Many legislators are eagerly anticipating a large budgetary study that will examine areas of spending in the budget known as “pass-throughs.” These pass-throughs often represent non-essential funding that could allow Oklahoma state government to become more efficient. Optimum budgeting requires a lot of information. As your elected officials, our goal is to maximize the value of your tax dollars.