Third Reading Deadline

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Thursday, March 17, marked another legislative deadline. House bills that have not yet been heard on the House floor are effectively dead until the next legislative session. We will now begin work on Senate bills in earnest.

Despite the revenue shortfall, I plan to fight to protect transportation funding and the current eight-year Department of Transportation plan to repair and update roads and bridges. Until 2005, state road funding did not keep up with inflation. This led to nearly 1,600 bridges with either structural deficiencies or that were too narrow to support today’s traffic. Since 2005, lawmakers have made road funding a true priority again. Road funding is scheduled to gradually increase to $570 million by 2016. Thanks to renewed funding, the 60 most-restrictive bridges in Oklahoma have all been refurbished or replaced. I believe we must continue to build on the progress of the past six years to ensure our road and bridges are safe and able to accommodate the needs of Oklahomans.

Conservatives have been calling for true tort reform, and now House lawmakers have passed it. House Bill 2128 puts a $350,000 cap on non-economic damages except in cases of reckless disregard, gross negligence, frau, intentional conduct, and death. We need this bill to continue through the process and get signed into law to stop doctors from leaving our state and businesses from closing their doors because of their liability for limitless non-economic damages.

I also wanted to highlight the House passage of a bill to bring nursing certification in the state in line with national standards. If certification requirements are the same throughout the nation, nurses who complete their Oklahoma certification will qualify for any position nationally and nurses from outside the state can easily come here to work. House Bill 1275 will improve our business climate as a state and simplify the process for those who are searching for nursing jobs.

House Bill 1520 also passed in the House and will no go on to the Senate. Under the legislation, law-abiding citizens who forget to keep their insurance card in their vehicle will not be charged court costs if they have to later prove it in municipal court.

Three of my remaining bills were passed on the House floor this past week. House Bill 1061 will protect road workers by giving them the right to use emergency red-and-blue light combinations. House Bill 1060 will give county commissioners greater flexibility in repairing county roads and bridges. House Bill 1835 will better define the levels of firefighter training that are eligible for existing tax credits.

I would like to thank local firefighters for their help in battling the Choctaw, Harrah, and Goldsby fires Friday. I think their professionalism and courage is to be commended.

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

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