More Bills Signed into Law

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

The first session of the fifty-fourth legislature is coming to a close. There’s even a possibly of ending session early, which would be a first for Oklahoma state lawmakers. We have workers’ compensation and income tax cut bills signed into law. The budget, which has been approved in the House and Senate, is the only remaining agenda bill that needs to be signed.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon has been instrumental in this year’s legislative successes. In his first year as Speaker, he has lead the largest House Republican caucus in state history, and done so in a new manner in which he allows all members of the caucus to run legislation that is a priority in their districts. Under his leadership and through the efforts of Governor Mary Fallin and Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, we have accomplished significant workers’ compensation reform and an income tax cut. I am also grateful for Appropriations and Budget Chairman Scott Martin’s work on behalf of House members to negotiate a responsible budget with Senate leaders and governor.

There are several important bills that have been signed into law this week. One bill sets up a system to address government inefficiency; a second measure addresses the theft of copper; and a third bill represents a new conservative approach to reducing poverty.

House Bill 1002, the Cost Reduction and Savings Act of 2013, requires the director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to identify the 10 state agencies with the lowest rankings in the financial services cost performance assessment and requires those agencies to accept a shared financial service plan to create cost savings. The new law prohibits a contracted agency from discontinuing the shared services unless the agency can document that it can provide the services at a lower cost.

House Bill 1740 will help deter copper thieves that have plagued rural communities in Oklahoma. The new law becomes effective in November and requires a scrap metal dealer to pay with a check instead of cash when purchasing more than $1,000 of copper. The measure requires scrap metal dealers to establish the identity of the seller and creates a licensing process for dealers through the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. The new law also increases the penalty for providing false information for a scrap metal log book to a felony punishable by a $5,000 fine, imprisonment for up to two years or both fine and imprisonment.

The intent of House Bill 1908 is to raise public awareness of the correlation between marriage and economic prosperity. The new law directs the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to create a statewide public service campaign to educate the public on the economic benefits of marriage and how it reduces the likelihood of child poverty. According to the Heritage Foundation, marriage reduces the chances of child poverty by 80 percent. Meanwhile, the country has spent more than $16 trillion in taxpayers’ money on poverty-related programs since the 1960s “War on Poverty” began. Today, 80 welfare programs spend almost $1 trillion annually on poverty-related issues.

In the next column or two, I will be providing information on the full list of accomplishments and achievements of the 2013 legislative session. As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at (405) 557-7407 or email me at mike.sanders@okhouse.gov.

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