Inappropriate Raises

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

With everyone tightening their belts this holiday season and so many public employees concerned about agency budget cuts, I was disheartened to see how some outgoing statewide officials chose to spend taxpayer dollars. It seems that the attorney general, state auditor, and superintendent of public instruction decided to give high-level members of their staff raises this fiscal year on top of raises in fiscal year 2010. Both the attorney general and superintendent of public instruction decided not to run for re-election and will not have to answer to voters for their actions.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson gave four staff members’ raises in fiscal year 2011 after they received significant raises (ranging from 10 to 43 percent) in fiscal year 2010. State Auditor Sean Burrage handed out eight raises this fiscal year, including one to an individual who had received a 23 percent raise in fiscal year 2010. Most disappointing of all were raises in the Oklahoma Department of Education. Though too numerous to list here, I would give as an example the individual who received a 56.8 percent raise in fiscal year 2010 followed by a second raise this fiscal year.

In contrast, a few statewide officials showed some restraint. Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields passed out only three raises this fiscal year and the highest raise given in fiscal year 2010 was 6.67 percent. Treasurer Scott Meacham did not give raises this fiscal year.

It is an abuse of the system when politicians who are leaving office irresponsibility give out large raises just before terming out in January. This is a waste of your tax dollars. I'm a big believer in rewarding people for hard work, but large raises on top of raises in tight budget years are clearly inappropriate.

Lastly, I would like to congratulate two area high schools for representing our district with pride and honor at the state championship for their respective classes. Congratulations to Hennessey High School Coach Shannon Watford, his staff, and his players, as they captured their first-ever state championship in Class 2A. Fantastic job, Eagles! Congratulations are also in order to Coach Jeff Myers, his staff, and the Kingfisher Yellowjackets, for being state runner-up in Class 3A. It was an incredible game that came down to the wire. I’m very proud of both teams.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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New Hats for the 2011 Session

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Legislation is a team sport and my role on the team is changing this year. House Speaker Kris Steele has appointed me Vice-Chairman of the House Human Services Committee. I also won the acclamation of the members of caucus, who selected me to be Assistant Majority Whip. I am honored and humbled by both appointments and look forward to the challenges of my expanded role.

The House Human Services Committee addresses bills that affect children, families, vulnerable adults, and seniors. The committee has focused on Department of Human Services’ reforms in recent years. Over the years, DHS has dropped the ball when it comes to the most vulnerable members of our communities – foster children, the senior nutrition program, daycare facilities, and vulnerable adults. The agency is too bureaucratic and the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing much of the time. State Rep. Pam Peterson is the committee’s chairwoman. I look forward to working closely with her to implement new reforms. Governor-elect Mary Fallin will be selecting a new director and I look forward to helping that individual get a fresh start at correctly and efficiently managing the agency.

As Assistant Majority Whip, I will be responsible for the flow of information between House leaders and the membership. It will be my duty to get an accurate head count of support on major bills and talk to individual members about their concerns. It is also important though that I make sure that information flows upstream to the House Speaker and leadership. Its critical now more than ever since we now have 70 Republicans in the House. I have already served in a leadership position and am proud to once again bring a rural voice to the table.

I intend to use my expanded role to continue to push an economic development agenda and protect oil, gas, and wind energy industries. One of the most important pieces of that agenda is workers’ compensation reforms. I also plan to ensure that rural firefighters continue to get the support they need from the Legislature and that education dollars are spent in the classroom. Lastly, I want to continue to make state government more accountable.

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Joe Dorman
Capitol: (405) 557-7305

OKLAHOMA CITY – Four lawmakers and local, state and federal emergency management responders and officials took part in an emergency management conference in the House Chamber today.

State Rep. Joe Dorman said the point of the conference was to ensure a coordinated response to natural disasters.

“Here in Oklahoma we always have a natural disaster just around the corner,” Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said. “The conference brings the federal , state, and local components of emergency response together in the same room to ensure that they get to know one another and can coordinator their efforts when the next ice storm or tornado or wildfire hits.”
State Rep. Mike Sanders said that efficiency is achieved with the coordination of federal, state, and local responders.

“Government is at its best when the right hand knows what the left hand is doing,” Sanders, R-Kingfisher, said. “Firefighters are already a band of brothers, so it only makes sense that their efforts across the state would be coordinated.”

State Reps. Gus Blackwell and Eric Proctor also attended the meeting.

“I think this conference was an opportunity to narrow response times and improve recovery efforts,” Blackwell, R-Goodwell, said. “Ultimately, that means greater safety and less hardship for those Oklahomans affected by natural disasters.”

“This was a great way to build on the state and local responses to natural disasters,” Proctor, D-Tulsa, said. “I look forward to taking part in this event annually.”

Presentations included an update on the new Incident Management Teams, county Incident Support Teams and local incident management; an overview on local incident command and leadership training; FEMA funding tips and background; and a rundown of several incidents that have occurred in Oklahoma.

Speakers included Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman and City of Moore Finance Director Jim Corbett; David Barnes, the Oklahoma County emergency management director and president of the Oklahoma Emergency Management Association; Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management; Kerry Pettingill, director of the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security; and Jon Hansen, the executive director of the Oklahoma Council on Firefighter Training.
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Sanders to Serve as Vice Chair of Human Services Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. Mike Sanders
Capitol: (405) 557-7407

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma House Speaker-elect Kris Steele has appointed state Rep. Mike Sanders as vice-chairman of the House Human Services Committee for the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions.

“I am honored by this appointment, which expands my role in Department of Human Services reforms,” Sanders, R-Kingfisher, said. “The committee oversees bills that affect children, families, vulnerable adults and senior citizens.”
The committee chairs will be active in advancing legislation arising from the House Republican caucus agenda while also dealing with the thousands of other bills filed each year.

“Given the significant challenges we face as a state, it is important to appropriately utilize the talents and skills of all 101 members of this chamber,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “I am confident that we have assembled a team of experienced leaders to serve as committee chairs who will develop and advance conservative, pro-growth policies that move Oklahoma forward.”

Sanders will serve alongside the committee’s chairwoman, state Rep. Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa).

“It is an honor to serve with Representative Peterson,” Sanders said. “I look forward to working with her on improving the adoption and foster care processes in the state as well as scrutinizing the rules and regulations regarding daycare providers.”
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Offering Thanks

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

As a state representative, I thought it would be appropriate to begin this column by offering my gratitude this year for the many individuals who trust me with their concerns and their problems. I am honored to serve the constituents of my district.

Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate the many blessings in your life. Family is one of the most sacred gifts we all enjoy, and so we spend this holiday with our loved ones. I am blessed to have such a supporting and loving wife as Nellie and am grateful for our son, Davis.

I am grateful for our troops and the military nurses and doctors who help get them back home to their families. These individuals sacrifice their own time with loved ones to help stabilize, among many places, the Middle East, an important step in reducing terrorism activity worldwide. I am thankful to our veterans, who along with our active-duty men and women have provided the protection under which we all live. Locally, our firefighters and law enforcement also protect us, and I am grateful to them.

I am thankful to live in country where “We the People” have the right to set the course of our government. We should never forget that we are blessed to live in a nation that is the envy of the world, and that we are blessed to live in a land where each voice (and vote) counts.

I am thankful for my neighbors, the local families who make western Oklahoma the best place to live anywhere in the world (at least in my opinion).

Most of all, during this time of year, I hope we will all remember local families in need, whether that means donating to a local food kitchen or simply checking in on a local widow to make sure she’s doing well.

I hope you enjoy our many blessings this Thanksgiving. 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 Heroes Among Us

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

How many times a day do we use the phrase “thank you.” I’m sure most of us say “thank you” dozens of times each day. We say “thank you” when a store clerk hands us change. We thank our friends when they pay us compliments or do us a favor. But how do you thank someone who is willing to give up everything so that we may continue to enjoy our lives and live in freedom?

For hundreds of years, young men and women have volunteered to defend our nation during times of war and peace. Our military servicemen and women who served in the defense of this nation are the truest heroes America has ever known. Our nation is richer because of the dedication of these great Americans. They came from every corner of society. Yet they served all Americans with the same passion, dedication and courage.

When you ask men and women to give up everything to protect the rest of us, the words “thank you” seem pretty insufficient.

Today, we remember those courageous Americans who have given their lives so that others could live in freedom. We also honor all the service men and women who serve our military today, protecting our freedoms and our liberty from oppressors and terrorists. These men and women took an oath to defend America, and they uphold that oath with bravery, decency and valor.

Veterans Day honors all those soldiers who have served on active, Reserve or Guard duty. It honors those who have served during times of peace, as well as times of war. This day salutes those who served two years and those who have served for their entire careers.

Veterans Day honors those who have served in all the services ─ soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsman. It celebrates those who joined voluntarily and those who were drafted. It honors those who served in the front lines, the supply lines and guarding the shores back home.

This day is vitally important, because, even a small amount of recognition can go a long way with a veteran. My best wishes to you all for a meaningful and memorable Veterans Day. God Bless America.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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AT&T Demonstrates MOBILE BROADBAND Service 
at Woodward Event

For more information, contact:
Sandra Robinett
Office: 580-233-5411
Mobile: 580-231-0849

AT&T demonstrates MOBILE BROADBAND service 
at woodward event
Four Area Cell Towers Upgraded to Offer High-Speed Wireless Service

woodward, Okla., Nov. 10, 2010 — AT&T* today officially launched its mobile broadband network in Woodward with a community event featuring a demonstration of the new high-speed wireless service at the Woodward campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

“We’re proud to bring our third-generation mobile broadband service to this area,” said Steve Gray, vice president and general manager for AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets in Arkansas and Oklahoma. “Mobile broadband brings DSL-like speeds to your phone or computer, but without any cables or phone lines. It’s a wireless service that gives you super-fast access to the Internet, video and audio, data, e-mail and more.”

AT&T is an industry leader in delivering the benefits of mobile broadband networks, devices and applications. With the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network, AT&T provides accelerated mobile data speeds and simultaneous voice and data capabilities for an amazing wireless voice and data experience.

Gray said AT&T upgraded four cell towers in the Woodward vicinity to bring mobile broadband service to the area, a project that is part of AT&T’s 2010 network investment program in Oklahoma this year. In the first six months of 2010, AT&T invested nearly $35 million in its Oklahoma wireless network.

Bryan Gonterman, president, AT&T Oklahoma, said AT&T has a long-standing commitment to serve Oklahoma and to bringing the latest technology to more communities. AT&T’s total capital investment in its Oklahoma wireless and wireline networks from 2007 through 2009 was nearly $650 million.

“When businesses look to expand or relocate, it is crucial that Woodward is able to offer them technology and services that rival those found in our state’s biggest cities,” said Ira Smith, chairman, Woodward Industrial Foundation.

Smith credited state Sen. Bryce Marlatt and state Rep. Mike Sanders with helping to bring the new technology to Woodward. “We are fortunate to have legislators at the state Capitol who are working to create the business environment that encourages this type of high-tech investment,” Smith said.

“The investment in a stronger wireless network for Woodward will help attract business and strengthen our local economy,” Marlatt said. “People of all ages today rely on being able to stay in touch with friends and family members and to transact their everyday business using a wireless phone or device.”

“High-speed wireless broadband is the next evolution of wireless communications, and I’m excited that Woodward is now at the forefront,” Sanders said.

In Woodward, AT&T products and services are available at the AT&T store at 2728 Williams Ave.

Wireless data traffic on the AT&T network has grown more than 5,000 percent over the past three years, largely attributed to the increasing popularity of advanced smartphones and the performance of AT&T’s 3G network, the nation’s fastest.

The expansion of mobile broadband service is one of many ongoing network initiatives planned to enhance coverage and capacity across the country. AT&T recently upgraded mobile broadband cell sites nationwide to High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2. Future plans include another upgrade to HSPA+ technology at the end of this year followed by the initial deployment next year of LTE, the next-generation of wireless technology. These advancements, when combined with an ongoing initiative to increase the number of high-speed backhaul connections to cell sites, are a part of AT&T’s strategy to provide customers with an enhanced mobile broadband experience, both today and in the future.

AT&T’s mobile broadband network is based on the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of technologies that includes GSM and UMTS, the most widely used wireless network platforms in the world. AT&T has the best international coverage of any U.S. wireless provider, providing access to voice service in over 220 countries and data service in more than 195 countries. AT&T also offers voice and data roaming coverage on more than 135 major cruise ships, as well as mobile broadband services in more than 120 countries.

For more information about AT&T’s mobile broadband coverage in Oklahoma or anywhere in the United States, consumers can visit http://www.wireless.att.com/coverageviewer. The online tool can measure the quality of coverage based on a street address, intersection, ZIP code or even a landmark.
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Exercise Your Right to Vote

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

In many ways, I feel like election day is a second Independence Day, because while we celebrate the many rights we have in this country on July 4, it is on Nov. 2 that we exercise one of our most important rights of all. One of the founding principles of our nation was to empower ordinary citizens by giving them the right to representation. “No taxation without representation” was the famous cry at the Boston tea party. They wanted to be able to elect representatives from their community to government.

Through an incredible struggle and unlikely success, Americans achieved that representation and earned their right to vote. This year, we will get the chance to take part in a historic election in which the state’s first female governor will be chosen from two high-profile, long-time public servants. In addition to that historic choice, there will be a string of statewide offices to elect and 11 state questions to choose from. Polling shows that in many of the races, even a small number of voters could make the difference. It would be a shame if those voters stayed home.

Many brave American men and women have fought to preserve our American system of government, and we honor them by voting. In countries under communist rule and other undemocratic forms of government, citizens get no voice at all. I would urge all local residents to not only honor this right by taking part in this election, but by also doing your homework to ensure that this right is carefully and thoughtfully exercised.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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Proposed New Dust Rules Are Ludicrous

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Farmers across the nation must be shaking their heads at the sheer ridiculousness of a proposal to further restrict the amount of “farm dust” that they may emit into the air. Farm dust refers to particles of diesel, manure, herbicides, and pesticides found on farms. Scientists employed by the Environmental Protection Agency have recommended a new rule that would be twice as restrictive as the current standard. This rule, if approved, may be in place by as early as 2011.

Agriculture is one of the largest industries in Oklahoma and could be adversely affected by the proposed rule. The EPA has not clarified what farmers would have to do to meet the new standard. Two solutions that were suggested in an article by The Oklahoman are to spray water on the fields to keep dust down or employ no-till or low-till farming techniques. In the same story, an Oklahoma Farm Bureau spokesperson pointed out that low-till farming is already widely used in Oklahoma. Spraying water on the fields might work, but would mean farmers would have to spend more to farm.

Those looking out for agricultural interests in the state have correctly pointed out that weather factors take control of the amount of farm dust in the air out of farmers’ hands and into Mother Nature’s. That means that the EPA is effectively trying to regulate nature itself. Ambient air miles from any human activity would not pass the proposed regulations.

I, for one, am disappointed to see an agency like the EPA, which was created at a time when there was no environmental regulation, go so far as to try and restrict farm dust down to levels that are simply ludicrous. The lack of common sense and balance in such a decision makes me think there needs to be better legislative oversight of this agency on a federal level.

October is 4-H month. I would like to congratulate all local chapters. October also marks the rapidly approaching Nov. 2 elections. This year’s ballot will include 11 state questions, many of which will create vast changes in the way the state is run. The questions can be found on the Oklahoma State Election Board Web site, at http://www.ok.gov/elections/documents/sq_gen10.pdf.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
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Natural Gas Fuels Continued Growth in Oklahoma Okarche Now a Center of Booming CNG Industry


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: House Media
Capitol: (405) 557-7421

OKLAHOMA CITY – The momentum for converting to alternative energy sources, particularly natural gas fuels, continues to grow, benefitting both Oklahoma and the nation, House Speaker Chris Benge noted today.

The demand for compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles has been felt in Okarche, where Oklahoma Equipment Management Systems (OEM) has seen demand for CNG conversions increase from about eight in 2007 to an estimated 800 vehicles by the end of this calendar year.

“For two years, I’ve argued that energy security is perhaps the most important issue facing this country and Oklahoma is uniquely positioned to be a leader. We have an abundance of natural gas, and the technology and ability to make use of it,” said Benge, R-Tulsa. “It’s becoming clear that Oklahoma is reaping the benefits of those efforts. At OEM Systems in Okarche, they’ve developed and refined the conversion process. After starting out as basically a home garage operation, their CNG conversion facility now deals in large volume. That’s good news for Oklahoma, because it creates jobs, and it’s good for our country as we attempt to wean the United States off foreign oil.”

Benge recently toured the OEM Systems facility in Okarche, discussing the process of CNG conversion with local experts.

State Rep. Mike Sanders, a Kingfisher Republican who represents Okarche also attended the tour, as did state Sen. Mike Johnson (R-Kingfisher), state Senator-elect Rob Johnson (R-Kingfisher) and other officials.

Since OEM began performing CNG conversions in 2007, they have streamlined procedures and worked with manufacturers to simplify the conversion process, dramatically reducing the time required.

That increased efficiency has combined with increased demand for CNG vehicle fleets, resulting in a huge growth rate in the CNG conversion business. In 2007, OEM did just a handful of conversions. Today, its facility is performing up to 40 vehicle conversions per week and is on pace to complete 800 this year.

That growth is also creating jobs. Of 95 employees at the company, 16 are currently involved in CNG conversion work.

OEM has worked with Oklahoma City Community College to certify new CNG technicians, in addition to running an in-house certification process.

The company also has satellite facilities in other states to provide maintenance service on CNG vehicles.

Sanders said the CNG success of OEM shows the positive economic impact that converting to natural gas fuels can have on rural Oklahoma communities.

“It means a great deal when we can home-grow our own fuel, produce it, manufacture it, and convert vehicles to run on it at places like OEM Systems in Okarche,” Sanders said. “The growth of CNG means not only greater energy security for our country, but also more jobs in places like western Oklahoma.”

Benge has worked to enact policy placing Oklahoma at the forefront of both the oil-and-gas industry and the alternative-energy movement, making the issue one of his top priorities as House leader.

In recent years, the Legislature has approved tax incentives to help offset both the conversion of a vehicle to natural gas fuels and the cost of installing CNG fueling stations. This year, lawmakers also set a state goal of having one public CNG station located every 50 miles along the state’s interstate system by 2025.
“In Oklahoma, we made great progress by pushing a locally-available, plentiful and cheaper option in natural gas, which creates jobs and wealth right here in America instead of shipping our money overseas,” Benge said. “My hope is that other states will see the success we are having in Oklahoma and replicate our policies in their own states.”
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