Final Push for Census Results

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution requires a census to gain an accurate count of the people who live in our nation and the places where they live. The federal government uses these figures to determine how much money each state, county and municipality receives.

Federal money is of course really our money that we pay in the form of taxes and fees. We want to make sure it is returned to us so that we can build and maintain our highways, roads and bridges; so we can keep our schools open, our school buildings maintained, our classrooms stocked with up-to-date textbooks, technology and other teaching materials. We want to ensure children who qualify for free-and-reduced lunch are accurately counted and provided with nutritious food. We want to make sure special education students get the help and specific teaching materials they need. We want to ensure our fire departments and other public safety services receive their fair share of this funding. We want to make sure our health clinics and other social services receive an adequate share of these federal dollars so our residents’ health and mental health care needs are taken care of.

Census figures also are used to determine how many seats in Congress each state is allotted. Oklahoma lost a congressional seat after the 2000 Census. We don’t want to lose another. Census counts also help determine how state House and Senate districts are drawn so every Oklahoman has a local representative in state government.

Think of it like this, we are competing with every other community in Oklahoma for a share of these dollars. If we go undercounted, we lose money to the next district over.

In looking at response rates and the potential cost of being undercounted for the 2020 Census, here are the results for our House District by County.

Blaine County had only a 41.1% response rate as of Aug. 17. It currently ranked No. 65 in the state. If just 5% of the county’s residents are not counted in this Census, it is estimated the county will lose almost $24 million over the next 10 years in federal funding.

Canadian County has a 70.5% response and is currently ranked No. 1. If just 5% of this county is not counted, the estimated loss is more than $230 million over the next 10 years.

Dewey County has a 38.6% response rate and is currently ranked No. 67. If 5% of this county is not counted, it stands to lose almost $10 million over the next 10 years.

Kingfisher County has a 54.7% response rate and is currently ranked No. 21. If 5% of this county is not counted, we stand to lose almost $30 million in federal funding over the next 10 years.

Woodward County has a 52.7% response rate and is currently ranked No. 29. A 5% undercount would result in more than $40 million lost over the next 10 years.

The Census is easy to fill out. It takes less than 10 minutes. You can fill out and return by mail the form delivered to your house. You can respond online at https://my2020census.gov/, or you can call 844-330-2020 and answer the few questions asked. 

Please take the time now to fill out the Census to make sure our district gets back all the money we’ve paid to the federal government. We want decent roads, schools and other public safety and health care services that the rest of the state and other in the nation will be receiving.

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County Roads, Bridges Improvement Projects in Blaine, Dewey, Woodward counties

By Rep. Mike Sanders

In my last column, I detailed County Improvements for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) projects for Fiscal Years 21-25 in Kingfisher and Canadian counties. This week, I’m listing projects in Blaine, Dewey and Woodward counties.

In Division 5, which includes Blaine and Dewey counties, 36 county bridges will be replaced or rehabilitated, including six that are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Approximately 100 miles of county roads will be improved. The amount budgeted is almost $98.7 million.

Projects in this division include the following in Blaine County in FY21:

  • Bridge and approaches on EW-068 over Salt Creek, approximately six miles south and 1.8 miles east of Okeene at an estimated cost of $437,500.

 

  • Preliminary engineering (PE) on a county bridge over an unnamed creek on NS-268, 11 miles east and 0.2 miles north of junction U.S. Highway 270 and State Highway 33 near Watonga at an estimated cost of $50,000. The work is scheduled for FY22 at an estimated cost of $437,500.

 

In FY22:

 

  • Grade, drain and surface on County Road EW-94 from NS-257, extending west five miles then south one mile to American Horse Lake at an estimated cost of $5 million.

 

In FY23:

 

  • PE for the county bridge over Squaw Creek on NS-250, 9.2 miles west and 4.5 miles south of Greenfield at an estimated cost of $50,000. The work is scheduled for FY24 at an estimated cost of $437,500.

 

In FY24:

 

  • PE of the county bridge over Spring Creek on EW-065, three miles south and 3.4 miles west of Okeene at an estimated cost of $50,000. The work is scheduled for FY25 at an estimated cost of $437,500.

 

No additional projects are scheduled for Blaine County for FY25.

 

In Dewey County in FY21:

 

  • Grade, drain and surface on County Road EW-60 beginning at Junction U.S. Highway 60 and U.S. Highway 281, extending east approximately eight miles on Indian Road at a cost of more than $8.8 million.

 

  • PE for the county bridge over Bull Creek on EW-723, 3.6 miles south and 2.8 miles east of Carmargo at an estimated cost of $50,000. The work is scheduled for FY22 at an estimated cost of $437,500.

 

  • The bridge and approaches for the county bridge on NS-229 over an unnamed creek, two miles east and 1.1 mile south of junction U.S. Highway 183 and State Highway 51 near Seiling at an estimated cost of $437,500.

 

In FY22:

 

  • PE for the bridge over Camp Creek on EW-61, one mile south and 6.4 miles west of junction U.S. Highway 183 and State Highway 51, a low-water crossing, at an estimated cost of $50,000. The work is scheduled for FY23 at an estimated cost of $437,500.

 

In FY23:

 

  • PE for the county bridge over Trail Creek on EW-73, five miles south and 6.5 miles east of Taloga at an estimated cost of $50,000. The work is scheduled for FY24 at an estimated cost of $437,500.

 

In FY24:

 

  • PE on the county bridge over an unnamed creek on NS-231, four miles east and 1.1 mile south of junction U.S. Highway 183 and State Highway 51 near Seiling at an estimated cost of $50,000. The work is scheduled for FY25 at an estimated cost of $437,500.

 

In Dewey County in FY25:

 

  • PE on Pee Wee Road (EW-063) at the intersection of U.S. Highway 183 extending east two miles and north 2.5 miles on NS-229 at an estimated cost of $160,000. Grade, drain and surface is estimated to cost of $3.5 million. Right of way is estimated to cost $50,000, and utilities are budgeted at $25,000.

 

Division 6 includes Woodward County. The five-year plan for this area includes the replacement or rehabilitation of 30 county bridges, 11 of which are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete; 11 will utilize recycled crosstown bridge beams. Approximately 81 miles of county roads will be improved. A total of more than $95 million is budgeted.

 

Projects in Woodward County in FY21 include:

 

  • PE on Phase III of County Road EW-51, beginning 10 miles west of State Highway 34 extending five miles west to the Ellis County Line at an estimated cost of $100,000. Phase 1 resurfacing begins in FY22 at SH 34 extending five miles west to NS-201 at an estimated cost of $4 million. Also in FY22, Phase II right of way and utilities begins five miles west of State Highway 34 extending five miles west to NS-196 at an estimated cost of $10,000 each. Phase III right of way and utilities also will cost an estimated $10,000 each. Phase II widening and resurfacing continues in FY23 at an estimated cost of more than $4.6 million. Phase III widening and resurfacing is scheduled for FY24 at an estimated cost of more than $4.9 million.

 

  • PE for the bridge and approaches over an unnamed creek on NS-2130, 0.1 mile south of EW-410 at an estimated cost of $70,000. The work is scheduled for FY24 at an estimated cost of $800,000.

 

In FY22

 

  • PE for widening and resurfacing on NS-195 beginning at EW-48 extending seven miles north to State Highway 15 at an estimated cost of $151,934. Work on right of way and utilities is scheduled for FY24 at an estimated cost of $20,000 each.

 

There are no projects scheduled for Woodward County for FY25.

 

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County Roads, Bridges Improvement Projects in Kingfisher, Canadian Counties

By Rep. Mike Sanders

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission recently approved the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) plan for state Fiscal Years 2021 through 2025 at its Aug. 3 meeting.

The plan, managed by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT), is set to replace or rehabilitate 152 bridges in House District 59 – of which 62 are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete – and to improve 257 miles of county roads in our area in the next five years.

I cannot overstate the importance of the CIRB plan and what it means for our rural communities. Safe and well-maintained infrastructure is the lifeline for those who choose to live in rural areas because of our exceptional way of life but who wish to still conduct business and commerce with those in other areas.

Throughout my 12 years in the state Legislature, I’ve worked to ensure transportation is a priority in the state budget each year. I also works closely with county commissioners and circuit engineers from our district to ensure their needs are addressed by ODOT.

In this column, I detail work scheduled on the CIRB plan for the next five fiscal years in Kingfisher and Canadian Counties.

In Division 4, which includes Canadian and Kingfisher counties, the plan includes the replacement or rehabilitation of 86 county bridges – 45 are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Approximately 62 miles of county roads will be improved. A total of almost $119.8 million is budgeted.

Projects in this division include the following in Kingfisher County in FY21:

  • The Bridge and approaches on EW-67 over Turkey Creek, 4.5 miles south and 2.4 miles west of Hennessey CN-30 at an estimated cost of $800,000.

 

  • The bridge and approaches on EW-88 over Uncle John Creek, one mile north and 3.4 miles east of Okarche CN-134 at an estimated cost of $1 million.

 

  • Preliminary engineering (PE) for the bridge and approaches on EW-72 over Treaty Creek, 0.1 mile south and 7.4 miles east of Loyal CN-51at an estimated cost of $70,000. Right of way and utilities are scheduled for FY22 at an estimated cost of $10,000 each. Work is scheduled for FY23 at an estimated cost of $800,000.

 

  • PE for the bridge and approaches on NS-274, approximately two miles south of State Highway 33 on CN-179 at an estimated cost of $100,000. The work is set for FY24 at an estimated cost of $1 million, with right of way and utilities costing an estimated $25,000 each.

 

  • PE for emergency roadway flooding damage repairs on E-70 at N-288.2 at an estimated cost of $55,000. Right of way and utilities are scheduled for FY23 at an estimated cost of $10,000 each. The repairs are scheduled for FY24 at an estimated cost of $360,000.

 

  • PE for other emergency projects in Division 4 at an estimated cost of $500,000.

 

  • Emergency relief for flooding bridge repair on E-76 Road at N-287.6 (Lemon Road at Kingfisher Creek) at an estimated cost of $200,000. Right of way will cost an estimated $100,000. Utilities are scheduled for FY23 at an estimated cost of $100,000. The permanent bridge repair is scheduled for FY24 at an estimated cost of almost $2.3 million.

 

  • PE for emergency flooding repair on E-730 at N-288.8 (Dover Crescent Road) will cost an estimated $55,000. Right of way and utilities are scheduled for FY23 at an estimated cost of $10,000 each. The work is scheduled for FY24 at an estimated cost of $300,000.

 

  • PE for emergency flooding roadway repair on E-73 Road at 291.2 (Dover Crescent Road) will cost an estimated $55,000. Right of way and utilities are scheduled for FY23 at an estimated cost of $10,000 each. The work is scheduled for FY24 at an estimated cost of $300,000. 

 

In FY22:

 

  • The bridge and approaches on EW-79.5 over Uncle John Creek, 0.2 miles north and 0.7 miles east of Junction State Highway 33 and U.S. Highway 81 CN-79 at an estimated cost of $1.5 million.

 

  • PE for the bridge and approaches over Cottonwood Creek, 2.2 miles south of Cashion CN-79 at an estimated cost of $75,000. The work is scheduled for FY25 at an estimated cost of $1 million. The right of way and utilities are estimated to cost $25,000 each.

 

In FY23:

 

  • Grade, drain and surface County Road EW-73 from NS-289, extending east three miles to NS-292 at an estimated cost of $2.5 million.

 

  • The right of way and utilities on County Road EW-73 from NS-289 extending east six miles to NS-295 are estimated to cost $25,000 each.

 

  • The right of way on the bridge and approaches on E-760 over Trail Creek CN-60 are estimated to cost $100,000.

 

  • Utilities on the bridge and approaches CN-60 will cost an estimated $100,000.

 

In FY24:

 

  • The bridge and approaches on EW-64 over Turkey Creek, 1.5 miles south and 0.8 miles west of Hennessey CN-17 at an estimated cost of $1 million. The right of way and utilities will cost an estimated $10,000 each.

 

  • The right of way and utilities on County Road EW-73 from NS-292 extending east three miles to NS-295 will cost an estimated $25,000 each.

 

  • The bridge and approaches on E-760 over Kingfisher Creek CN-60 will cost an estimated $4 million.

 

  • Construction for additional emergency projects in Division 4 will cost an estimated $2.6 million.

 

In FY25:

 

  • The bridge and approaches on two bridges on EW-71.5, 0.3 miles west and 0.2 miles south of Dover CN-42 will cost an estimated $1.5 million.

 

In Canadian County in FY21:

 

  • The right of way for the bridge and approaches on EW-105 over an unnamed creek, 2.8 miles south of the junction of Interstate 40 and the U.S. Highway 281 spur for an estimated cost of $25,000. Utilities will cost an estimated $10,000.

 

  • PE for the bridge and approaches on NS-287 over an unnamed creek, one mile south of State Highway 3 at an estimated cost of $100,000. The work is scheduled for FY23 at an estimated cost of $800,000.

 

  • The bridge and approaches on EW-89 (Waterloo) over an unnamed creek, five miles south and 0.7 miles west of Cashion at an estimated cost of $550,000.

 

  • PE for the bridge and approaches over Uncle John Creek on 192nd St. NW, 1.25 miles east of State Highway 81 and 1.1 mile south of State Highway 3 at an estimated cost of $100,000. The work is scheduled for FY24 at an estimated cost of $1 million.

 

In FY22:

 

  • The bridge and approaches over an unnamed creek on EW-61, one mile south and 6.4 miles west of junction U.S. Highway 183 and State Highway 51 at an estimated cost of $800,000.

 

There are no additional projects slated for Canadian County for FY23-25.

In my next column, I’ll detail work for Blaine, Dewey and Woodward counties.

A full list of CIRB projects for FY21-25 is available online at

https://www.odot.org/cirb/pdfs/cirb_fy2021-2025_workplan.pdf.

 

 

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Welcome Back to School

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Normally, this time of year, I’m writing my traditional welcome back to school column – wishing all the students good luck in their classes and activities for the coming year; congratulating parents on surviving the summer and getting back to a more normal routine; wishing teachers, staff and school administrators a terrific start to the school year.

Scratch the record. It’s a whole new ballgame this year because of COVID-19.

While many school districts, particularly those in rural areas, are planning to start in-person this year, some are choosing either blended learning or fully virtual models.

Daniel Ingram, superintendent of Canton Schools said his district is starting in person Aug. 13 but has an option for home-based learning for parents concerned about sending their children back to school. Many other districts have similar plans and will have distance-learning plans in place for those students that will have to quarantine either because they have the virus or have been exposed to someone that has.

Many districts also have full virtual models available for those families that choose that option. Many require applications for this option, however, as well as meetings with district administrators, and they require at least a semester-long commitment if not for the entire academic year. Some allow virtual students to participate in extracurricular activities, including athletics, but others do not.

Mr. Ingram said most of his students and parents as well as teachers are excited and ready to get started with a new school year. There are always those who are apprehensive, he said, and that is OK. For those, his district and others have many options and reassurances.

Most schools holding traditional classes have a number of new protocols this year designed to keep students and educators safe. Some districts are requiring masks be worn in buildings and on buses. Others are strongly recommending masks, especially during times when students will be together in large groups. Many teachers are working to spread out desks in classrooms. Cafeteria times will be staggered in many districts. Bus drivers will be asked to keep students as spaced as possible. Many districts are encouraging parents to transport their children to and from school.

Many districts will be taking students’ temperatures before they board buses or enter buildings. Hennessey Public Schools says online that it has installed multiple thermal imaging cameras that will take students temperatures throughout the day. They’ve also purchased mobile hand sanitizer stations.

Most districts have detailed sanitation practices spelled out online. This includes shutting down water fountains, cleaning desktops and other surfaces regularly throughout the day, limiting the number of students in the restroom at one time. Some districts are moving to virtual Friday models, where students will learn from home on Fridays giving the schools time to deep clean each week.

I’m sure most parents are well aware of their schools’ policies for the upcoming school year, but for those that have not yet checked, please do so soon.

No matter what your concerns for the new school year, I hope parents, students and educators can at least look forward to all a newschool year brings – the opportunity to learn new things and advance, the chance to make new friends and reconnect with the old, the chance to show your knowledge and participate in activities in which you excel, and so much more. Please enjoy this school year.

In the meantime, if I can help you with anything, please do not hesitate to reach out. I can be reached atMike.Sanders@OKHouse.gov or (405) 557-7407.

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House Schedules Interim Studies

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Each year during the interim between legislative sessions, each chamber of the state Legislature holds interim studies. These give lawmakers an opportunity for an in-depth look at ideas that may become future legislation or to examine areas where current law may need to be changed.

The interim study period is one of the most important parts of the legislative process. The ability to meet, gather data and question experts on matters important to Oklahomans is invaluable. This year, because of continuing renovation at the Capitol and because of health protocols, our meeting space is somewhat limited, but the 74 meetings approved will be livestreamed for those who want to watch meetings online. Any material presented at the meetings also will be archived and available on our House Website.

Studies will start the week of Aug. 10 and run through Oct. 29.

A full list of Interim Studies can be found here: https://www.okhouse.gov/Committees/ShowInterimStudies.aspx.

Meeting times and days as well as specific protocols will be posted on the website under meeting notices as they arescheduled.

Here is a look at some of the studies of importance:

Several studies will focus on practices enacted during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. One will look at the Catastrophic Emergency Powers Act that gave the governor broad power during the early days of the pandemic to respond with state resources. Others will examine the responsibilities and powers of county commissioners and municipal responses during such emergencies.

The House Republican Caucus chair will hold a study examining the lessons the state learned during COVID-19 as well as potential future responses as they relate to protecting vulnerable adults in long-term care facilities.

The House Education Committee chair will hold studies examining regional states compared to Oklahoma’s education response to COVID-19. She also will look at broadband connectivity for Oklahoma public schools. The importance of connectivity was highlighted when schools shut down to slow the spread of the virus. Our students must continue their education so they are fully prepared for the demands of the future.

On the topic of education, my own study will look at improving literacy skills in Oklahoma. This builds on several pieces of legislation I’ve passed in recent years that help address literacy gaps for students who suffer from dyslexia. Ensuring all Oklahoma students can read will help us build a stronger workforce and lead to a brighter future for the entire state.

Our House Appropriations & Budget vice chair will evaluate updating antiquated portions of the state’s tax code.

Several studies will look at transportation issues. One will eye options for cities and towns to secure funding to repair roads and bridges damaged by the energy industry. Another will look into creating the County Enhancement and Development Fund for country roads projects.

Another study will examine current regulations that affect the National Fire Protection Association, and whether some of those can or should be relaxed during times like the recent pandemic. A separate study will look at overlap and proper response procedures for rural fire departments and emergency managers as it relates to connectivity and routing of calls through 911 systems. Two legislators – one a former police officer, the other a former fire fighter – will evaluate the requirements and benefits of building a statewide emergency radio system for state, county, local and tribal authorities.

Options for increasing retirement savings programs for Oklahomans who currently do not have access to such a plan through their employer will be discussed. The focus will be to explore options for increasing access to retirement savings programs to encourage Oklahoman’s secure their financial future. A separate study will look at market analysis for future cost-of-living adjustments for state retirees.

Stolen valor is the subject of another study. This happens when a person who is not a veteran misrepresents themselves to claim tax exemptions or other benefits from the state. It’s quite a big deal to those who sacrificed and served our state and nation in the military. This study will look at the effects of this egregious violation.

Meat inspection has become a hot topic this year with many cattlemen suddenly facing long backlogs in getting meat processed and packaged. Part of the backlog is a lack of meat inspectors in the state. One study will look at potential incentives for local butchers to utilize meat inspectors.

Another study will look at private property laws as they relate to retrieval of hunted animals or cattle or livestock that get onto another person’s property.

These are just a few of the topics that piqued my interest. I’m sure I’ll find more.

In the meantime, if I can help you with anything, please do not hesitate to reach out. I can be reached atMike.Sanders@OKHouse.gov or (405) 557-7407.

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New Blaine and Dewey County Transportation Projects

By Rep. Mike Sanders

It’s that time of year when I give my annual update of roads and bridges projects in our district. This one includes projects in Blaine and Dewey Counties.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation lists these projects as complete:

  • Near Okeene and Hitchcock, three bridges over creeks on State Highway 8 south of State Highway 51. The project contract was $3.6 million, but the contractor received a $188,000 bonus ($4,000 per day) for finishing 47 days ahead of schedule.
  • Bridge work on State Highway 51 over the North Canadian River in Canton. The project contract was $3.4 million, but the contractor finished 30 days ahead of schedule so received a $150,000 bonus ($5,000 per day).
  • In Blaine County on State Highway 58:
    • School zone advance warning signs have been installed in Canton; cost $18,057

The following projects are under construction or considered active:

  • The bridge north of Taloga on U.S. Highway 183 is 99% complete; cost $4 million.
  • South of Seiling, work on U.S. Highway 270 near the junction of State Highway 51 is about 98% complete; cost of $8 million.
  • Also on U.S. 270 at various locations along State Highway 33, asphalt patching is being done; cost $228,000.
  • In Dewey County
    • On State Highway 34: chip and seal beginning south of Camargo, extending south 10.2 miles; cost $291,425. ODOT crews are working on this project and will complete it next week.
    • On U.S. 60:
      • Resurfacing beginning at the Ellis County line, extending east 5.91 miles through Vici to State Highway 34, includes State Highway 34 from U.S. 60, extending north to Woodward County line at a cost of $1.7 million. This job was bid, but bids from a sole bidder came in too high and the project was not awarded. It is expected to be re-let in 2021.

A separate bridge project in Canton on State Highway 51, over U.S. Gypsum Road, 2.4 miles north of the State Highway 51 junction has not started yet. This project was contracted at $880,991 and will take 90 days. Transportation officials said work will not start until after Sept. 1 because of migratory birds in the area.

A resurfacing project was let in June on State Highway 51A at State Highway 51 at Southard, extending north 7.57 miles; cost $2.7 million. Also approved in June is a grade, drain and surfacing project on County Road EW-72 from 2.3 miles east of State Highway 8, extending east near Hitchcock; cost $3.9 million.

Additional projects include:

  • Chip and seal work on State Highway 51
    • At State Highway 51A, extending east 10.5 miles; cost $318.595
    • 3 miles east of State Highway 8, extending east 5.77 miles; cost $188,412
  • Chip and seal work on State Highway 51A
    • 6.82 miles north of State Highway 8A, extending north 3.2 miles; cost $104,824
    • At State Highway 8, extending north 4.3 miles; cost $133,143

Work on different sections of U.S. Highway 270 in Blaine and Dewey counties will be let between this November and 2024. The total for the projects is estimated at $78.4 million. Areas to be worked on are:

  • 0.4 miles southeast of State Highway 51E, extending southeast 4.9 miles – to be let November 2019.
  • 5.4 miles southeast of State Highway 51E, extending southeast 3 miles – to be let November 2020.
  • 8.4 miles southeast of State Highway 51E, extending southeast 5 miles – to be let November 2021.
  • 6.35 miles northwest of State Highway 58, extending southeast 3.25 miles – to be let November 2023.
  • 3.09 miles northwest of State Highway 58, extending southeast 3.93 miles – to be let November 2024.

Work on two sections of State Highway 3 in Blaine County will be let this year and next:

  • In September, 1 mile east of the U.S. 270 junction in Watonga and extend east 4.5 miles; in September 2020, 5.5 miles east of the U.S. 270 junction in Watonga and extend east 6.4 miles to the Kingfisher County line. Estimated cost for both $15.8 million.

Six bridge projects in Blaine and Dewey counties also are scheduled to be let:

  • In August utilities work on State Highway 8 over an unnamed creek 12.4 miles north of State Highway 33 in Watonga; cost $1,000.
  • In November, the State Highway 8 bridge over Salt Creek in Okeene, approximately 7.3 miles south of State Highway 51; estimated cost $2.5 million.
  • In February, the State Highway 58 bridge over Minnehaha Creek in Canton; estimated cost $1.8 million.
  • The State Highway 34 bridge over the Canadian River south of Camargo in June 2021; estimated cost $13.5 million.
  • U.S. 60 bridges over Cottonwood and Kizer Creeks, located 5.7 miles and 9 miles east of State Highway 34 in 2023; estimated cost $3.9 million.
  • U.S. 60 bridges over Camp and Deep Creeks, 5.9 and 2.1 miles west of U.S. 183 in 2025; estimated cost $5 million.

Next week, I will talk about Woodward and Woodward County projects.

If I can help you in any way, I can be reached at (405) 557-7407 or mike.sanders@okhouse.gov.

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Kingfisher, Canadian County Transportation Projects

By Rep. Mike Sanders

This is my third and final update of roads and bridges projects in our House district. This column focuses on those inKingfisher and Canadian counties.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) lists these projects as recently completed in Kingfisher County:

U.S. Highway 81 reconstruction from 5.4 miles north of the Canadian County Line to three miles north. Crews reconstructed the northbound lanes just south of Kingfisher at a cost of $9,110,507.

U.S. 81 over Kingfisher Creek in Kingfisher. Crews replaced this bridge at a cost of $3,689,243.

U.S. 81 starting 800 feet south of County Road 860 and extending north 0.3 miles. Crews added turn lanes at a cost of $646,468.

Recently completed in Canadian County:

State Highway 3 bridge rehabilitation project over U.S.-81 at a cost of $2,753,373

S.H. 3 pavement resurfacing beginning at State Highway 4 extending west to 0.5 miles west of Gregory Road.

These projects are ongoing:

U.S. 81 at Oklahoma Avenue in Okarche. This joint project between Kingfisher and Canadian counties, the City of Okarche and ODOT will replace the sidewalk along Oklahoma Avenue and replace the driving surface on the avenue as well as update the signal at U.S. 81 at a cost of $1,994,998.

In Kingfisher County:

State Highway 33 and U.S. 81 in Kingfisher. Pavement rehabilitation on S.H. 33 from the U.S. 81 Junction 0.4 miles east to Second Street, and on U.S. 81 from the S.H. 33 junction two blocks south. Crews are replacing the existing concrete pavement at a cost of $1,324,317.

S.H. 33 from the Logan County line extending west five Miles. ODOT is purchasing the right-of-way on S.H. 33 for an upcoming shoulder-widening project at a cost of $2,036,000. Crews also are relocating utilities on this same stretch at a cost of $2,622,283.

U.S. 81 northbound bridge over the Cimarron River. Crews are repainting the bridge beams at a cost of $618,993.

In Canadian County:

West Overholser bike route and sidewalk project will cost $377,071.

S.H. 3 pavement resurfacing from 4.75 miles east of the U.S. 81 junction extending east 3.26 miles at a cost of $2,622,283

Future work in Kingfisher County includes these projects in Fiscal Year 2021, which started July 1.

S.H. 33 from 0.56 Miles east of the U.S. 81 junction extending east 9.4 Miles. ODOT is purchasing the right-of-way on S.H. 33 for an upcoming shoulder-widening project at a cost of $4,295,100.

S.H. 33 from Second Street to the U.S. 81/S.H. 33 junction and south two blocks to Don Blanding Avenue. This will add or update sidewalks to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act at a cost of $119,217.

State Highway 51 from U.S. 81 in Hennessey east 7.53 miles. This project will widen shoulders, resurface pavement and include the bridge box extension and replacement over Camp Creek at a cost of $14,564,200.

Additional projects on S.H. 33 and 51 and U.S. 81 are planned through Fiscal Year 2027.

Future work in Canadian County includes the following projects for FY21:

S.H. 3 pavement resurfacing from the Canadian/Kingfisher County line to Radio Road at a cost of $7.5 million.

U.S. 81 pavement resurfacing from 0.15 miles north of Memorial Road, north to S.H. 3 at a cost of $5,787,754.

U.S. 81 bridge rehabilitation northbound over the Canadian River at a cost of $4,347,540.

U.S. Highway 281 spur pavement resurfacing from the U.S. 281 junction, southeast 4.21 miles at a cost of $1,070,030.

Projects on U.S. Highway 270 bridges over 6 Mile Creek and Unnamed Creek are set for FY22 and FY26.

Over the last 12 years, almost $59.6 million has been invested on transportation projects in Kingfisher County and almost $32.4 million in Canadian County.

Transportation has always been a priority for me as a state lawmaker. Keeping our roadways safe for our families and open for commerce is a core function of state government. I worked hard during my service in the state Legislature to secure as much funding for roads and bridges projects in our district as I could. I’m proud of the $343.5 million spent over the past 12 years in House District 59. It’s been an honor to work with the dedicated leadership and crews at ODOT and in our counties

If I can help you in any way, I can be reached at (405) 557-7407 or mike.sanders@okhouse.gov.

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Woodward County Transportation Projects

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Every summer, I give a detailed update of roads and bridges projects in our House district broken down by county. This column focuses on those in Woodward County.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation lists this project as complete:

State Highway 15 located 6.4 miles east of the State Highway 46 junction and extending 4.4 miles northeast. Crews widened, resurfaced, and repaired the bridge that overlaps both Ellis and Woodward counties to include the town of Fargo at a cost of approximately $7.5 million.

These projects as ongoing:

Crews are nearing completion on a U.S. Highway 270 project that begins approximately 10.5 miles southeast of State Highway 50 and extends 3.7 miles southeast. This is a grade, drain, bridge and surface project adding two new lanes and rehabilitating the existing lanes to accomplish a four-lane divided highway at a cost of approximately $12.3 million. ODOT hopes to have this project completed by late fall or early winter.

The final section of U.S. Highway 270 in Division 6 also has been awarded. This is a milestone for the division as it completes the four-lane section of U.S. 270 from Woodward to Seiling. This portion of the project begins approximately 14.7 miles southeast of State Highway 50 and extends 4.3 miles southeast to the Woodward/Dewey County line. The grade, drain, bridge and surface project adds two new lanes and rehabilitates the existing lanes to accomplish a four-lane divided highway at an estimated cost of $21.5 million. The total cost of the overall projects, which began in 2003, is about $93 million.

Construction also is nearing completion on the 34th Street project in Woodward. This is a grade, drain, bridge and surface project beginning at U.S. Highway 412, extending south 2.07 miles. The cost is approximately $8.6 million and is a joint venture between ODOT and the City of Woodward. Work is expected to be complete by late summer.

The final ongoing project is an asphalt resurface on U.S. Highway 412 beginning 1.08 miles east of U.S. Highway 183 in Woodward and extending approximately 8 miles east. The cost of this project is $4.8 million. It should be complete by late summer.

Future work includes:

A Bridge replacement on State Highway 34 just north of Woodward over the North Canadian River. It is scheduled for 2021 at an estimated cost of $5.3 million.

ODOT currently is planning a bridge rehabilitation project on U.S. Highway 270 over the Unnamed Creek in the town of Woodward. The bridge is 0.4 miles east of the State Highway 15 and U.S. Highway 183 junction. This project will consist of replacing the bridge deck on both the east- and westbound lanes and will require a crossover where traffic will be moved to both the east- and westbound lanes while the deck is being replaced. This project currently is planned for 2021.

A resurfacing project on State Highway 34 in Woodward County begins at the U.S. Highway 270 junction and extends 7.9 miles south to near Sharon. Work is scheduled for 2022 at an estimated cost of $1.5 million.

Another project to widen, resurface and bridge State Highway 34 in Woodward County begins at the U.S. Highway 60 junction in Vici and extends approximately 8 miles north. The project is scheduled to let in 2027 at an estimated cost $15 million.

The final upcoming project is on State Highway-34 beginning at the junction of U.S. Highway 412 in Woodward and extending 0.8 miles north. This project is a grade, drain and surface and is scheduled for 2025 at an estimated cost of $4.0 million.

Over the last 12 years, approximately $108.5 million has been invested on transportation projects in Woodward County.

If I can help you in any way, I can be reached at (405) 557-7407 or mike.sanders@okhouse.gov.

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Celebrating our Nation’s Independence

By Rep. Mike Sanders

The Fourth of July is a day packed with emotion for me as it celebrates the founding of our nation and the ideals upon which it was founded: liberty, freedom, justice, fair representation and so much more. This emotion – shared by the entire nation – spills out into expressions of celebration such as parades, patriotism, picnics, fireworks, gatherings of friends and family and so much more. You witness the most outlandish displays of red, white and blue on this day, and I enjoy every bit of it.

For on this day the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress of the original 13 colonies of the United States of America. With this document, the legal separation of the colonies from Great Britain occurred and the new nation officially was formed.

What’s astounding to me is that the final version of the Declaration of Independence was prepared by what is known as the Committee of Five – five members of Congress who drafted and presented to the full Congress the document that would become America’s greatest announcement of independence from tyranny.

Just five men: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston worked on the final draft. The last two are barely remembered by anyone other than historians, and yet they helped accomplish this incredible task.

After serving in the state Legislature for 12 years among 101 members of the House of Representatives, 48 Senators and one executive, I know the rigors of getting legislation passed. It takes writing and rewriting, discussing and debating, amending and and adjusting. It’s a monumental task to get all parties to agree. And yet not one of these pieces of legislation, while well intentioned and helpful to our citizenry, will never achieve the status of this one document drafted by merely five men.

That just goes to show you the value of the few. Never take for granted that your one voice combined with just a few associates can make a vast difference for generations to come. A literal handful of men shaped the destiny of our nation for centuries, and I hope much longer.

On this July 4, I hope each of you take a moment to pause and reflect on the true greatness of our nation and to thank God for our unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As the Declaration of Independence proclaims, we will continue to assert our right to be free and independent, and as free and independent states, we still have “full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and all other things which independent states may of right do.

As the signers of this incredible document promised, let us likewise resolve: “for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Happy Fourth of July!

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Session Overview, Part II

By Rep. Mike Sanders

In my last column, I discussed some of the major pieces of legislation passed this year. This week, I’m writing about a few additional measures that are now law.

Senate Bill 801 changes the relationship of physicians to Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) from supervisory to collaborative. This issue is particularly important to rural Oklahoma as it increases our access to quality health care in areas where physicians are not always in ready supply. CRNAs point to their years of schooling and licensing requirements as proof they can take care of all but the most severe medical cases. This opens the way for faster and more affordable care for rural residents, while still ensuring patient safety. This is supported by the Oklahoma Association of Nurse Anesthetists (OANA), the Oklahoma Society of Anesthesiologists (OSA), the Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA), and the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association (OOA).

Another measure, House Bill 3400, requires all Oklahoma public high schools to offer at least four Advanced Placement (AP) courses beginning in the 2024-25 school year. AP courses are proven to better prepare students for college, and even helps them earn college credit, saving them time and money on tuition. This law allows schools to offer the coursework through traditional teaching, through online instruction or by cooperative agreement with other schools. This is one more step in having a more skilled and trained workforce to add jobs to Oklahoma’s economy.

Two bills the Legislature had to enact by overriding the governor’s veto – House Bill 4018 and Senate Bill 1002 – allow us to establish a rural broadband expansion plan and add two members to the Rural Broadband Expansion Council, one appointed by the speaker of the House and one by the president pro tem of the Senate. This will ensure the people directly elected to represent Oklahomans have a voice in the process of broadband expansion. It was discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic that about 1/3 of public school students have no access to Internet. This posed a problem when schools were shut down and students were asked to do their work at home. This also affected adults who were asked to work from home, and it hampered business owners trying to deliver products and services. Building a reliable broadband network that reaches all parts of our states will help ensure everyone who wants access to the Internet can have it. This also will help us attract job creators and is another thing that will help build our state’s economy.

We also increased the penalty for porch pirates – those who steal packages or mail from homes, businesses or delivery vehicles. This has become more of a problem as people have moved to having many products delivered to their homes or businesses, especially during times such as the recent pandemic. House Bill 2777 ensures those who commit theft of these packages would face a misdemeanor for first and second offenses and a felony for three or more offenses. The goal is to thwart such theft.

Senate Bill 1125 directs the State Board of Education to issue Oklahoma teaching certificates to people who hold valid out-of-state teaching certificates, with no other requirements except a criminal history record check. This removes a barrier of having to get relicensed or recertified for these qualified teaching professionals who choose to relocate to Oklahoma to take the jobs that are open in many of our rural school districts. This is a win-win for our schools and our state. Our schools get more certified teachers, and the state builds its ranks of workers who contribute back to our economy.

Oklahoma has had a law on the books for years that required anyone submitting an absentee ballot in an election to have it notarized. The Oklahoma Supreme Court earlier this year struck that requirement down, not because the notarization process itself was deemed illegal, just that the requirement relied on the wrong section of law. We came back in and fixed that with the caveat that for the June 30 statewide election voters could submit a photocopy of their ID instead of having to have their absentee ballot notarized. After the June 30 election, the law will again require notarization. This helps keep our elections free of fraud, and protects this important right.

Just a reminder that I am still in office until mid-November, so if there is anything I can help you with, please reach out to me. I can be contacted at Mike.Sanders@okhouse.gov or (405) 557-7407.

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