Session Agenda Set

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders have a joint vision for the 2013 session that includes workers’ compensation, cutting the tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, restoring local control to school districts, and working to improve the way we manage state assets such as roads, bridges and state buildings.

Since I was elected in 2008, and to this day, businesses in my district have told me about the burden created by the current state workers’ compensation system. I am a strong proponent of reforming the system and was pleased to hear the governor and legislative leaders all refer to it as a top priority this year.

I believe it is our moral obligation to help hardworking Oklahomans keep more of their money in their pockets, which will also improve the business climate of Oklahoma. I feel this can be accomplished by cutting the tax rate. As the governor mentioned, both Kansas and Texas have lower income tax rates, and I too believe there is room for Oklahoma to further reduce the income tax rate further.

The Legislature will be examining unfunded federal mandates and seeing if there is any action we can take at the state level to reduce their burden on schools. We will also be looking at reducing some of our state mandates or at least allowing for exemptions. We will be examining the allowance of students to be exempt from end-of-instruction tests such as those taking Advance Placement tests. The idea is to avoid test fatigue, especially for high-performing students. We will also be discussing mandates such as class size and the purchase of textbooks. I know Kingfisher High School will be receiving a grant as a top-performing school that will share its policies and practices with a priority, low-performing school. I certainly support certain mandate exemptions and deregulation for a school that has shown they need no reform.

I am proud to chair the committee that will focus on the eight-year transportation plan for Oklahoma roads and bridges. Modern roads and bridges, just like high-performing schools and a pro-business climate, are essential to attracting jobs to the state. Derelict bridges and roads also represent a public safety hazard and source of inconvenience for many residents.

The governor listed mental health funding as one of her budget priorities. Unlike national leaders, we feel like the best approach to addressing the danger of mass shootings and school security is by improving state services for mental health problems rather than trying to further regulate guns. There are many cases of shooters who are mentally ill, but very few cases of shooters that are lawful gun owners.

I look forward to telling you more about specific bills as we get farther along into the legislative session.

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

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