Your Voices Heard

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Although lawmakers worked collaboratively on many bills this year, I also wanted to highlight the new laws based on the specific concerns of House District 59.

I authored House Bill 3049 after an ordeal that occurred in the district concerning a child predator living with a child. I learned that state law did not prohibit a sex offender from living with a minor child. Now that this legislation has been signed into law, sex offenders convicted of abusing a child cannot live with a minor.

Many of you were also concerned about the numerous child deaths that have occurred in our state. I studied the deaths that have taken place on the Department of Human Services’ watch. What is clear is that some of the files on these children did not contain accurate information or too little information to ensure their safe placement. House leadership allowed me to take over authorship of House Bill 3133 in order to address accountability at DHS. Now that the measure has been signed into law, DHS employees, private advocacy groups, law enforcement or other individuals who knowingly and intentionally falsify information used in a deprived child proceeding that results in the great bodily harm or the death of a child will face a felony, $1,000 fine and up to 2 years in a state penitentiary. If you want credibility, you have to have accountability.

A portion of Highway 81 going into Hennessey will now be named in honor of Senator Ralph J. “Butch” Choate. This was made possible by the signing of House Bill 3108, a bill that carried most of the road and bridge name-changes made this year.

Our communities have been visited by wildfires, ice storms and tornadoes. Firefighters help protect us in times of danger. A bill I authored to improve volunteer firefighter training incentives was signed into law this year. House Bill 1835 turns the volunteer firefighter training incentive into an earned performance-based incentive and gives local fire chiefs input into training that counts towards the incentive.

Three bills signed into law address county government. House Bill 2371 will raise the amount that counties can issue as a blanket purchase order to cover the repair of county equipment to $5,000. Senate Bill 221 speeds up county purchase order processing. Senate Bill 223 transfers the responsibility of fair board elections from the county clerks to the election board. In all three cases, this allows local governments to work more efficiently for you.

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

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