By Rep. Mike Sanders
The 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing is a reminder to us all of our vulnerability, but also our strength. On April 19, 1995, Oklahoma lost 171 people (3 unborn children) in a terrible tragedy, but we worked together, with a lot of help from around the nation, to heal.
The safety of American citizens must always be a top concern of state and national government. The 1995 bombing was carried out by an American citizen, but today’s threats include those of radical Islam. With that in mind, we must always consider any desire to isolate ourselves from the wider world cautiously. Yes, we do not want to lose American lives to war, but we also do not want to lose them to acts of terrorism.
Last week, I told you I would tell you about the Senate bills I am sponsoring in the House. I have four bills by three different Senate authors. I also had two House bills I authored that are now headed to the governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 178 strengthens statutes that prohibit minors from consuming or attempting to buy an intoxicating beverage and businesses from selling alcohol to minors. Although there is a ban in place, there are places in our statutes that only refer to low-point beer, rather than any intoxicating beverage.
Senate Bill 322 authorizes the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to post a temporary reduced speed limit using a changeable message sign or other appropriate sign for maintenance operations or for hazardous highway conditions.
Senate Bill 141 addresses the fee structure for commercial driver’s license. A $15 fee for a license will be split with $10 going to the general revenue fund and $5 going to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety fund. If the license is requested through a tag agent, $2 will go to the tag agent and come from the $10 general revenue fund portion.
The measure also directs the public safety agency to establish a procedure whereby Motor Vehicle Reports may be purchased at a bulk rate in order to reduce the cost per individual report.
Senate Bill 134 is a way to thank public safety officers for their service. It allows a retired officer with the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety or a retired agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to pay to keep their duty weapons upon retirement. The price they pay is defined as the price at which the weapon was purchased during their service.
House Bill 1318 would create a felony for an assault on an off-duty officer. We worked hard on this bill to make sure it allowed felonies in cases in which the assailant was going after the officer because he was an officer. It is not intended to create a felony for an assault in which the assailant does not know he is attacking an officer. This legislation awaits the governor’s action.
I am most excited about the Senate passage of a bill I authored to encourage additional volunteer firefighters. Currently, there is a maximum age limit of 45 for new volunteer firefighters. This age limit was put in place because of pension issues that happen when recruiting older firefighters. I had constituents tell me they would rather volunteer without a pension than simply be barred. House Bill 2005 gives them that option. It now awaits the governor’s signature.