Purchasing Reforms Save State Big

Purchasing Reforms Save State Big

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

As committees continue to send legislation to the House floor, I thought I would give you a bit of good news regarding the success of past government modernization reforms. I was informed this week that state agencies are looking at the possibility of saving as much as $12 million from recently completed and ongoing contract negotiations made possible by purchasing reforms.

Oklahoma’s state purchasing agency is the Department of Central Services. Deputy Director Randy Ross has informed the House Government Modernization Committee that the expected savings to the state from new contract negotiations is set to be as much as $12 million. Municipal and county governments might save as much as an additional $7 million by taking advantage of these contracts.

The purchasing reforms were enacted by legislation that gave Central Services additional tools to negotiate the best products at the lowest price for the state. The department has also been able to streamline purchasing orders and the receiving of bids with the use of modern technology. This in turn gives Central Services more time to negotiate contracts.

Ross projects that the state will save at least $10 million in the short term and increasing amounts as more contracts are renegotiated. Many of the reforms were first suggested during a 2007 government modernization interim study, which suggested that if the state utilized technology and purchasing best practices, the state could save as much as $75 million annually. Government modernization remains a top priority for House Republicans this year.

The House Government Modernization Committee has also been busy moving legislation. One bill that passed will ban the use of kids in advertisements for the state lottery. Basically, I would compare the use of children in these ads to the use of cartoon characters such as Joe Camel and candy-flavored cigarettes in tobacco advertising. There’s just no reason that children should be associated with something that they are prohibited from taking part in. Gambling, like alcohol and tobacco, can lead to a serious addiction. As the bill’s author says, “it makes no more sense to use them as pitchmen for gambling than to us them to sell tobacco and alcohol.”

I want to thank the following FFA chapters for their visit during FFA week – Kingfisher, Okeene, Dover, Lomega and Woodward. I’d also like to congratulate all FFA national winners. This organization does so much to give our youth opportunities to develop leadership, an appreciation for hard work, and agriculture. I’m very pleased to see their great work.

I visited the state medical examiner’s office today with Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Ken Miller, Public Safety Committee Chairman Randy Terrill and other House members. We wanted to see firsthand what a mess the office was in. It’s had staffing problems, building problems, and a long backlog of paperwork. I believe it is critical that we address these problems. Oklahoma families depend on it.

I visited the Panhandle Nutrition Center in Vici this past Friday to discuss the cuts to the senior nutrition programs. I enjoyed visiting with the nearly 40 seniors who attended the lunch, and I would like to extend a special thank you to Panhandle Nutrition Center Director Sara Herring for allowing me to join them.

Most of my legislation is scheduled to be heard next week in committee and I’m looking forward to talking to my fellow lawmakers about the importance of each measure.

I will keep you regularly updated on the activities of the Legislature through this column. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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Contract Awarded for Pedestrian Improvements in Kingfisher County: Kingfisher

Contract Awarded for Pedestrian Improvements in Kingfisher County



OKLAHOMA CITY – A contract was awarded recently for pedestrian improvements in Kingfisher County, Sen. Mike Johnson and Rep. Mike Sanders recently announced.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the project involves pedestrian improvements along US-81 from just South of SH-33, extending North in the city of Kingfisher.

Sen. Johnson, (R-Kingfisher) said the State Transportation Commission awarded a $573,407.50 contract on the project to Rudy Construction Co. The Oklahoma City company was the lowest of six bidders for the job, said Rep. Sanders, (R-Kingfisher).

Once construction begins, the project is estimated to be completed within two months.
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Contract Awarded for Pedestrian Improvements in Kingfisher County: Okarche

Contract Awarded for Pedestrian Improvements in Kingfisher County



OKLAHOMA CITY – A contract was awarded recently for pedestrian improvements in Kingfisher County, Sen. Mike Johnson and Rep. Mike Sanders recently announced.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the project involves pedestrian improvements along US-81 from Iowa Street, extending North in the city of Okarche.

Sen. Johnson, (R-Kingfisher) said the State Transportation Commission awarded a $320,517.40 contract on the project to TMC Construction Company. The Kingfisher company was the lowest of 11 bidders for the job, said Rep. Sanders, (R-Kingfisher).

Once construction begins, the project is estimated to be completed within two months.
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Committee Meetings Mark First Week

Committee Meetings Mark First Week

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Committee meetings are where the action takes place in the first week of session as each bill must be vetted before the full House votes on it. In meetings, committee members diligently review, amend, and offer suggestions to improve legislation before considering whether or not to pass it on to the next step in the process.

The House Rules Committee, which I serve on, will be looking at a number of bills that affect election procedures, ethics, and constitutional amendments that, if passed, will be added to the 2010 ballot. Because of the number of constitutional amendments already on the 2010 ballot, it will be very important that we give careful consideration to how pressing the need is before approving any new ones.

An important piece of legislation that has passed out of the House Judiciary Committee is a bill that would allow the use of the death penalty for repeat child molesters. Though the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled against the use of the death penalty for sex crimes, conservatives feel that this will be an opportunity to again challenge the decision. The legislation also sets the maximum penalty for a first offense at life without parole and the maximum penalty for failure to register as a sex offender at 20 years imprisonment.

Legislation to prevent tornado deaths is also headed to the House floor. The bill would require mobile home parks and RV parks to develop a plan to either shelter or evacuate their residents. In the Lone Grove tornado, seven of the eight people who died lived in a mobile home park. Throughout Oklahoma, mobile and RV park residents are particularly vulnerable and I think this legislation is a good first step in preventing needless deaths.

I would like to congratulate Linda Huffman of Kingfisher who served as Nurse of the Day on February 4. It was a pleasure having her up here. Father Stephen Hamilton of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Kingfisher also came by the Capitol to join the pro-life rally.

I will keep you regularly updated on the activities of the Legislature through this column. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407
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The Governor’s First Offer

The Governor’s First Offer

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Though the start of session was relatively calm, Governor Brad Henry’s proposed budget hinted at a hiccup in the negotiations between his office and the Legislature’s conservative leadership.

Conservatives in the Legislature look to make targeted cuts in response to the revenue shortfall and hope to use less of the Rainy Day fund to fill holes. With little idea of how long the shortfall will continue, this seems like the most prudent course. It’s expected we could face another $600 million budget hole next year because stimulus funds will have to be replaced. If so, maintaining some money in the Rainy Day fund this year will be crucial. In the governor’s proposed budget, 80 percent of the Rainy Day fund will be immediately used to stave off painful yet necessary cuts.

To be clear, there are many things that Governor Henry and lawmakers agree on. The Legislature plans to do the utmost to protect education funding. By targeting cuts to less essential services and taking advantage of stimulus dollars, education should come out of the budget process in much better shape than other agencies, including the Legislature and the Governor’s Office, both of which will take a large cut. The governor also wants to consolidate a number of agencies, which conservatives support.

One area where rural lawmakers on both sides of the aisle differ with Governor Brad Henry is on the funding of the Rural Economic Action Plan. Last year, you may remember, an effort was made to remove it from the budget. Rural lawmakers fought to get it back in and were successful. REAP received the same 7 percent cut as most state agencies. Funding for the program was generated through an increase in the fine for delinquent tag renewal, which increased from 25 cents to $1 a day. Of the 75 cents increase, 50 cents went to REAP while the other 25 cents would stay with the tag agent. Governor Henry’s proposed budget this year zeroes out REAP funding. We plan to fight and save it again.

Lastly, I will note the Governor’s tactful omission of any discussion of workers’ compensation legislation in his State of the State address. I think that despite the importance of this legislation in attracting business to the state and improving the time it currently takes to get benefits to injured workers, it will likely be an item of contention. Many attorneys support Democratic candidates with campaign contributions, and workers’ compensation attorneys would lose a cash cow if this legislation passes, although injured workers would be better off.

But, on a positive note, I do believe the Legislature and Governor Brad Henry will resolve their differences on the budget. Often, the governor’s proposed budget is like the beginning of a barter. He gives the Legislature an offer and they return with something a bit different. My hope is that by the end of the year, the budget will include REAP funding and will draw less on the reserve funds we may need in the next couple of years.

I will keep you regularly updated on the activities of the Legislature through this column. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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Sanders Wants REAP Funding to Remain in Budget

Sanders Wants REAP Funding to Remain in Budget


 OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Mike Sanders said today he will fight Gov. Brad Henry’s decision to eliminate funding for the Rural Economic Action Plan in his proposed budget.


“In a tight budget year, it’s reasonable to assume the REAP program would suffer a cut,” Sanders, R-Kingfisher, said. “Governor Henry has chosen to zero it out, which I believe is terribly irresponsible when REAP dollars are so important to rural communities across the state. I will fight to get REAP funding in the budget, because it not only will enhance the economic development of the rural areas of our state, but also our state as a whole.”


Last year, Sanders and other rural lawmakers successfully fought to include REAP in the budget. It received the same 7 percent cut given most to most state agencies, including the Legislature and Governor’s office. Funding for the program was generated through an increase in the fine for delinquent tag renewal, which increased from 25 cents to $1 a day. Of the 75 cents increase, 50 cents went to REAP while the other 25 cents would stay with the tag agent.


“Rural lawmakers were very proud of their success last year in retaining REAP funding in the budget,” Sanders said. “There are supporters of REAP on both sides of the aisle and I am confident we will save REAP again.”

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Legislative Reforms to Bring Business to Oklahoma

Legislative Reforms to Bring Business to Oklahoma

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

This year, members of the House Republican caucus will be introducing major reform legislation to fix the state workers’ compensation system, correct inefficiencies in the state’s financial processing system, and attract the relocation of alternative energy companies to Oklahoma.

Workers’ compensation reform will, like last year’s historic lawsuit reform legislation, lower business expenses, and make Oklahoma more attractive to new industry. At the same time, the reform will continue to protect workers injured on the job and improve employee benefits. There is a deep dissatisfaction with the workers’ comp system, which is plagued by fraud and high costs and rarely produces consistently fair and equitable results.

Currently, attorney involvement in Oklahoma’s workers’ comp system is 50 percent higher than the national average. Even though the benefits specified in state law are comparable to workers’ comp benefits in other states, the actual cost of those benefits in Oklahoma is among the most expensive in the nation.

Government modernization legislation will include an aggressive effort to target waste in the state’s financial processing systems. Based on a study commissioned by the Office of State Finance, House Bill 2310 will set a timetable by which state officials must use technology to remedy inefficiencies in the system including the number of invoices each accounts payable full-time employee handles.

The study, conducted by the globally-recognized Hackett Corporation, found that up to $65 million could be saved each year through the implementation of a more efficient state government financials system. The Hackett study documents that Oklahoma’s accounts payable system is incurring high transaction costs and experiencing low productivity because of the under-utilization of technology. Oklahoma spends $20.05 for each invoice in the state’s accounts payable system compared to peer groups that spend $3.58 per account payable. In other words, it takes Oklahoma six times more resources for each process than similarly sized organizations.

Our state is situated to be a leader in the use of wind and natural gas, two resources that abound in Oklahoma. I recently met with representatives from OG&E, the Corporation Commission, the Farm Bureau and several wind energy companies. The subject of our meeting was HB 2973, my proposed wind energy legislation. This group came together to ensure that HB 2973 would be fair and beneficial to all parties involved. My number one priority with this legislation is to protect Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers. Our land is a valuable commodity and we must ensure that proper measures are taken when contracting with wind energy companies to protect our land and the rights of landowners.

I would like to thank you all for the overwhelming support I have received for my legislation to increase the prison time for convicted sex offenders and require a map-able address and zip code when they register.

I will keep you regularly updated on the activities of the Legislature through this column. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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2010 Session Legislation Filed

2010 Session Legislation Filed

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Though the 2010 session has yet to begin, lawmakers have already completed their bill filings. A total of 1,153 bills and 31 joint resolutions were filed by House members. In addition, there are 901 bills and 48 resolutions that are alive from the 2009 session.

As for myself, I filed six bills and carried over one from the past session. The primary focus of my legislation is public safety, including the safety created by having updated roads and bridges. I have also filed legislation regarding the American Legion and wind energy in Oklahoma. I remain determined to continue to support the modernization of state government, the streamlining of tax dollars to our classrooms, and the protection of taxpayers from unnecessary spending.

Sex Offenders

House Bill 2968 extends the amount of time a person convicted of a sex crime against a child can be imprisoned and stiffens the reporting requirements on registered sex offenders. Current law sets the minimum sentence for the abuse or sexual exploitation of a child at 25 years. My legislation would increase the minimum sentence to 50 years. The other important provision in my legislation would require that a map-able address be on file at all times for registered sex offenders.

Use of Emergency Lights

House Bill 2969 amends current law to restrict wrecker and towing services from using red and blue light combinations. This has been requested by some of our county sheriffs who feel that overuse of the red and blue flashing light combination can cause drivers to become desensitized to what those lights really mean. When people do not slow down or pull over for our emergency workers, everyone is endangered. Under my legislation, only emergency vehicles may use red and blue light combinations. All other vehicles will be allowed to use flashing amber lights. HB 2969 also requires wrecker and towing services to notify local law enforcement when they will be towing a vehicle for any non-payment reason. The towing service would be required to furnish information concerning the towed vehicle such as: a description of the vehicle, the address or location of where the vehicle was towed and the name, address and business telephone number of the wrecker or towing service provider.

Wind Energy

House Bill 2973 will allow for the further development of the Oklahoma wind energy industry while putting in place mandates that will protect our land’s integrity and the rights of property owners who participate in the wind energy industry.

Roads and Bridges

I have authored two bills, House Bill 2971 and House Bill 2972, that deal with our state’s emergency transportation and the manner in which our roads and bridges are repaired.

American Legion

House Bill 1471 is legislation I am carrying over from the 2009 session that grants tax exempt status to all chapters of the Oklahoma American Legion. This tax exempt status will not affect the state budget, but will allow the American Legion to put even more money back into their communities and programs.

Court Clerks Bill

House Bill 2970 updates court clerk postal and filing fees to match what they are being charged by the United States Postal Service.

I will keep you regularly updated on the activities of the Legislature through this column. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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Sanders Files Legislation To Protect Children From Abuse

Sanders Files Legislation To Protect Children From Abuse

OKLAHOMA CITY – Those who abuse children, especially children under the age of 12, need to be kept behind bars, state Rep. Mike Sanders said today.

Legislation filed by Sanders, R-Kingfisher, would increase the penalty for the sexual exploitation or abuse of a child to a 50-year sentence. House Bill 2968 would also require sex offender registries to include a map-able address and zip code.

“It is imperative that we protect the children of Oklahoma from these child predators by keeping them behind bars,” Sanders said. “I also think we must protect our children by requiring additional information on sex offender registries, specifically an address with a zip code that can be mapped rather than a P.O. Box or an address that cloaks the location of the sex offender.”

Sanders noted that child abuse is a problem that has plagued the state and must be addressed.  

“We cannot allow such terrible crimes to  continue,” Sanders said. “Anything we can do to prevent them must be done. This legislation will increase the minimum sentence these predators must receive if convicted.”
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CHESAPEAKE ENERGY DONATES FUNDS TO SHARON-MUTUAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS

N e w s   R e l e a s e 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                

Chesapeake Energy Corporation

CHESAPEAKE ENERGY DONATES FUNDS TO SHARON-MUTUAL PUBLIC SCHOOLS

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA, DECEMBER 22, 2009 – Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) donated $1,000 to Sharon-Mutual Public Schools on December 2 to help complete the lighting for the school’s athletic field, which is used for a variety of sporting events. 

 “I know Sharon-Mutual students, faculty and board will be very thankful for the contribution Chesapeake has made to the athletic facility,” State Sen. Bryce Marlatt said. “I am thankful for the company’s support in Northwest Oklahoma. This is a great example of the benefits that come from our corporate partners’ involvement in our community.”

State Rep. Mike Sanders said: “Thank you to Chesapeake Energy for this contribution to support Sharon-Mutual’s athletic facility. Contributions like this are important to our communities and schools, and we thank corporate partners like Chesapeake who help make projects like this possible. We certainly look forward to the future games and events this will help us continue to enjoy.”

Chesapeake’s Director of Community Relations said: “At Chesapeake, giving back and helping build communities are among our founding principles and vital to every area we serve. We are proud to help fund a portion of lighting for the Sharon-Mutual Public Schools’ athletic field so students and members of the community will have a safer and well-lit facility for athletic practices, games and other community events. We greatly appreciate Sen. Bryce Marlatt’s and Rep. Mike Sanders’ leadership in Woodward County.” 

 

Chesapeake Energy Corporation is one of the leading producers of natural gas in the U.S. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the company's operations are focused on the development of onshore unconventional and conventional natural gas in the U.S. in the Barnett Shale, Haynesville Shale, Fayetteville Shale, Marcellus Shale, Anadarko Basin, Arkoma Basin, Appalachian Basin, Permian Basin, Delaware Basin, South Texas, Texas Gulf Coast and East Texas regions of the United States. Further information is available at www.chk.com.
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