New Laws Signed

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

The governor has begun to sign a number of bills to help improve our state law and make the operation of our state government more efficient. It is a more than rewarding experience to witness this process. The voice of Oklahomans are genuinely being reflected in the laws produced by this legislative session.

My legislation that turns the volunteer firefighter training incentive into an earned performance-based incentive was signed into law this week. The new law requires a volunteer firefighter to complete 12 initial credit hours toward the State Support or State Basic Firefighter or Firefighter I, an equivalent or other training approved by the Council of Firefighter Training, in order to receive the incentive. Local fire chiefs can approve volunteer firefighter training and the bill requires volunteer firefighters to annually complete six hours of the approved training. Volunteers who have completed these courses must complete six hours of Intermediate or Advance Firefighter or Firefighter I to be eligible for the incentive. The bill’s intent is to ensure firefighters are properly trained and ready to defend our communities against wildfires, severe weather and the other disasters that threaten our safety and property.

The governor also signed new drunk driving penalties into law. Under the new law, a drunk driver who causes an accident resulting in great bodily harm could face a maximum of 10 years in prison, an increase from the previous 5-year maximum penalty.

One of the hot topics of discussion at the Capitol is crumbling buildings, including our own state Capitol building. A third bill signed into law will address infrastructure needs by selling unneeded state properties and using that money to maintain the buildings that are in use. The new law creates a Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund, which will receive the revenue generated by proceeds from the sale of state-owned land and buildings. Money in the fund would then be used to maintain and repair other state properties and buildings. It also requires that the state’s Long Range Capital Plan include an index ranking state buildings based on maintenance needs. Money in the Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund would be allocated to projects based on those with greatest need. Recent estimates indicate there may be thousands of state-owned properties that could be utilized in different ways or sold to benefit this fund.

Also, I would like to encourage local high school students to apply to participate in Oklahoma Business Week, a unique summer camp at East Central University in Ada. The 100 campers chosen will learn leadership and decision-making skills through business simulations with advisors, including Alan Marcum, the executive vice president at Devon Energy. Campers will also listen to lectures by distinguished business leaders. This year’s camp is scheduled for July 8-13. To apply, visit www.okbusweek.com or contact Stacey Bolin at (580) 559-5596 or info@okbusweek.com. Completed applications are due May 7, 2012.

I am excited about the progress we have made thus far and look forward to reporting new developments. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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