Redistricting Process Will Include Rural Voice

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

In the 2011 session, lawmakers will take up the challenging duty of redrawing the lines for both congressional and state legislative districts.

The redistricting process occurs every 10 years following the completion of the U.S. Census count. Although it is not a glamorous issue, redistricting is crucial to maintaining our most basic right in a democracy, the principle of “one man, one vote.”

As some areas gain population and other areas lose citizens, redistricting ensures that each district has approximately the same number of people, preventing the artificial dilution of any one group’s voting power. In the past, some largely rural districts were drawn in such a way that they included a small but populated urban area. These districts did not truly represent the rural communities in them because of the number of votes in the urban portion of the district.

This time around, I am pleased to inform you that rural lawmakers will have a major role in the redistricting process. House Speaker-Designate Kris Steele has named an eight-member bipartisan Redistricting Steering Committee that includes rural Republican leaders. State Reps. Dale DeWitt (R-Braman) and John Trebilcock (R-Broken Arrow) will serve as co-chairs of the committee. Overall, five of the eight committee members represent rural districts. I have put in a request to be on the standing committee for redistricting once session begins.

In the Senate, state Sen. Mike Schulz (R-Altus) has been named co-chairman of that chamber’s 2011 Redistricting Committee. Schulz is another strong advocate for rural Oklahoma.

The committee’s first task will be to create guidelines for redistricting, drawing on the law governing redistricting and the process required.

The process will begin in earnest once we receive the U.S. Census Bureau data, probably in mid-March. Work on the House and Senate district lines must be completed by the end of the 2011 legislative session and new lines for Congressional and county offices should be completed before the 2012 elections.

As I mentioned, I believe the new lines should be drawn based on common-sense principles. When possible, districts should be geographically compact and include communities with similar interests. Basically, rural communities should be in rural districts, and urban neighborhoods should be in urban districts.

While population changes may mean a few more seats shift to the metro areas, I believe rural Oklahoma will continue to comprise a large share of House and Senate seats if we redraw the lines fairly.

I am pleased several of my allies will have leadership roles, but I will also be actively engaged in the redistricting effort and continue to fight for rural Oklahoma.

In closing, I would like to congratulate Pastor Gary and Helen Barnhart and the Abundant Praise Church of God in Kingfisher on their new sanctuary. I can't thank them enough for their warm hospitality and letting me be a part of their celebration.

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
Add your reaction Share

Nine Years After 9/11

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

The image of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center will be forever present in our minds. Even nine years later, I can remember the horror and awe at seeing it. The words, “we are under attack,” came out of my mouth as we watched. I was the Director of White House Interns at the time. We were told to evacuate the building.

Nearly 3,000 lives were lost, lives of good people who were just going about their daily tasks that day. That terrible tragedy put the United States onto a new course and changed the way we talk about foreign policy and border security.

It’s hard to imagine but that day could have been worse, that’s one thing that frightens me the most. Flight 93 was also hijacked and could have taken the lives of its intended target if the brave men and women aboard had not brought it down in western Pennsylvania. Firefighters and policemen in New York City and Washington, D.C., gave their lives rescuing strangers from the ruins of the World Trade Center and Pentagon. I would be remiss to forget these sacrifices.

I think that when people question the wars we have entered into, that they must have let too much of that day slip out of their memories. Our brave men and women are fighting on distant shores because we have learned, in a terrible way, that what happens in other countries affects us. We cannot sit idly by while less stable countries become havens for our enemies and eventually come back to haunt us.

I am very grateful for the freedoms my family and I enjoy in our country. I am also thankful for those men and women who sacrifice everything to provide us those freedoms. They give us peace of mind and in return, we give them our respect and gratitude. Let us never forget and always remember the day we were attacked so boldly and so terribly.

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
Add your reaction Share

Calling for Local Leaders

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” This quote comes from Peter Drucker, a famous thinker and writer who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by U.S. President George W. Bush in 2002.

Drucker predicted the rise of volunteering and nonprofits in American and maintained that Americans would find fulfillment in it rather than simply in their place of work. In Oklahoma, this is certainly true, with so many organizations working for the betterment of their communities.

One Oklahoma non-profit that is doing yeomen’s work in rural communities across our great state is the Oklahoma Community Institute. OCI was created in 1995 to focus on providing assistance to rural communities who are looking for ways to help themselves. OCI’s purpose, as stated by their mission statement, is “to be a catalyst that enables and encourages Oklahoma citizens to improve their communities.”

One avenue by which OCI achieves their incredibly bold and important mission is by annually putting on “The Citizens Academy.” The mission of The Citizens Academy is to give local residents the skills, information and resources needed to build and sustain healthy Oklahoma communities, and is perfect for individuals who have a passion for the future of their communities and want to see the local community maintain or improve its quality of life. The Citizens Academy is open to any Oklahoma citizen and, to date, has graduated more than 180 individuals from nearly 65 communities across our great state.

OCI’s Citizens Academy is held over a six-month period, meeting once a month for a total of six sessions. Sessions cover topics including “Foundations of Community Leadership,” “Leading Effective Community Teams,” “Community Assessment and Planning,” and “Economic Development and Tourism.” Cities slated to host this year’s sessions include Claremore, Ponca City, Weatherford, Alva, Oklahoma City and Quartz Mountain State Park.

I would like to encourage anyone interested in the long-term sustainability of their community, or those interested in becoming a community leader, to send in their applications for The Citizens Academy by Sept. 17. To apply, contact Oklahoma Community Institute Director of Programs Stephanie Ronck at or at (405) 208-8883. The application is available online at

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
Add your reaction Share

Search for New Juvenile Offender Facility Should be More Public

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

The western Oklahoma communities of Clinton and Hennessey are currently competing for the chance to house state juvenile offenders, an opportunity that would create hundreds of jobs in this part of the state. Proposals by the two communities are straightforward and available to the public through the state Office of Juvenile Affairs meetings.

An Ada company’s proposal, on the other hand, turns out to be more complicated than what appears in the proposal under consideration at OJA meetings. The company approached Shawnee about helping to finance a new maximum security facility for juvenile offenders as part of their plan, but failed to inform Tecumseh, where the facility would be located.

I believe that the entire process ought to be open to more public scrutiny. Bypassing the city of Tecumseh was plainly discourteous, but I would also argue that the cities of Hennessey and Clinton could have been better informed of what they were up against too.

In the coming weeks, I would urge OJA officials to open up the discussion to the rest of us. Not only would this seem more fair to the communities involved, but it would ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars statewide.

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
Add your reaction Share

Opening Our Eyes to Public Safety Needs

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

I had the honor of riding along for a major drug bust in western Oklahoma. At approximately 6 a.m. Aug. 20, nearly 100 agents and officers from several departments fanned out across Custer and Comanche counties armed with arrest and search warrants for members of an organization responsible for distributing large quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana in our part of the state.

These brave men and women put their lives on the line to keep drugs off our streets and protect our children. During this expedition, I saw firsthand the danger that these individuals put themselves in. I was absolutely impressed with their professionalism, their bravery, their passion, and their commitment. I was also amazed at some of the locations of the arrests, with one major player arrested 20 yards away from an elementary school.

This past year, conservative lawmakers worked hard to protect public safety in the budget. After seeing them in action, I would like to redouble my efforts to ensure this area of government is held harmless during budget cuts. I am going to do everything that I can as a member of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety.

I would also like to reiterate the connection between drug cartels and illegal immigration. State lawmakers must find ways to pick up the slack that the federal government has left to us. Arizona’s strict new law sent a message to cartels and there is evidence that they have moved into other states, including our own. We must also send a message that deters them.

We’re not going to be open to business in Oklahoma when it comes to drug trafficking. I want to commend the brave law enforcement agents who took part in this sting and the investigation led by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics that led to these arrests.

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
Add your reaction Share

A Better Approach to Health Care

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Health care spending eats up a large portion – nearly $1.3 billion this year – of our state budget. Part of that money is spent on the state match for Medicaid, a federal program that is growing out of control. I recently came across an idea for a more efficient use of those tax dollars.

Avik Roy, a National Review Online health care blogger, suggests that fewer tax dollars would be needed if the money went directly to low-income individuals instead of funneling the money through federal health care coverage.

Roy looked at Congressional Budget Office and Medicaid Actuary projections and found that the Medicaid program will cover 5 million fewer people by 2017 but nearly double in cost, rising from an average cost of $9,815 per person to $19,249 per person. Meanwhile, the average private-sector individual health plan costs $4,386.

Medicaid is one of many inefficient spending systems. With a federal deficit that is spinning out of control and such a large portion of tax dollars going to health care programs, something must be done. I would encourage you to petition your federal Congressional representatives about this idea.

One of the major problems under the current Obama administration is excess spending. If Roy’s study is any indication, this spending comes about through funneling money through expensive and inefficient programs rather than streamlining it directly to its intended recipients. Though I would even question if it is the responsibility of taxpayers to fund health care, I think that it is clear that the money is not being used properly.

I thought I might also mention a growing trend in which doctors are converting their practices to concierge services. Most are doing so because they want to see fewer patients, but give those patients a higher level of care. Their patients pay them an annual fee and can get in to see their doctor the same day they make their appointment, in addition to getting more of the doctor’s focus and follow-up. I think that there may be an idea here that could be adapted to improve our health care system.

I would like to thank all the folks who made the Okeene 69th Annual Whea-Esta a great success. A big thank you goes to Sherri Feely and everyone at the Okeene Chamber of Commerce. The event could not have been pulled off without you. I enjoyed being a part of this great tradition.

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
Add your reaction Share


For Immediate Release:

Oklahoma City - Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (KOB) has notified the City of Ames that its Fresh Paint Days grant application has been approved. During the days of September 17-28, the City of Ames will apply a fresh coat of paint to the American Legion building. The committee will receive twenty gallons of paint, donated by H.I.S. Coatings of Oklahoma City and a $75 stipend, funded by the Public Service Company of Oklahoma.

The City along with the American Legion Post 340, Volunteer Fire Department, Ames Christian Church, Ames Coop, The Korner Store and Hardiman Roofing will join more than 500 volunteers across Oklahoma in 20 communities to participate in the 2010 Fresh Paint Days in Oklahoma. This KOB program asks volunteers to transform an unsightly structure using only creativity, paint and a lot of elbow grease.

"I am thrilled that another town in District 59 has an opportunity to work with Keep Oklahoma Beautiful,” stated District 59 Representative Mike Sanders (R). “The work that this organization undertakes is so important in keeping our communities clean and attractive. I want to thank KOB, H.I.S. Coatings and Public Service of Oklahoma for providing this wonderful opportunity for the City of Ames. I also want to congratulate Ames for taking advantage of the Fresh Paint Days in Oklahoma grant and instilling pride in their town."

“The community of Ames is dynamic and driven: Recently the people of Ames have improved their Main Street buy initiating a variety of projects,” said community member Steven Mackie. Recognizing that pretty places stay pretty clean and often spur economic development, the City of Ames not only wants to improve its main street area for its citizens, but also for the thousands that visit the Ames Astrobleme Museum annually.

For more information about Fresh Paint Days and to read about the other 2010 projects, visit

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is a statewide nonprofit organization with a mission to encourage, facilitate and recognize grassroots efforts that improve the aesthetic, environmental and sustainable quality of life in Oklahoma.
Add your reaction Share

A New School Year Begins

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

With a little one of my own, education is always on the forefront of my mind. A new school year is upon us, and it reminds me that it will not be long before my boy will be old enough to begin preschool.

In addition to doing my best to protect education from funding cuts, I have also supported new math and science standards to increase school accountability. That being said, I think our superior teachers in Western Oklahoma should have no trouble meeting those new standards. Students throughout the district test far above the state average in math. I am particularly proud of the hard work of school teachers and administrators in light of the difficulties created by the state’s revenue shortfall.

I would also like to remind drivers that school zones will soon be in effect and that they should correct their speeds accordingly. As most of you know, the fine for speeding in a school zone is much higher than your average speeding ticket.

I would like to congratulate former Kingfisher Middle School Principal Andy Evans. Evans was hired as the superintendent of the Mountain View-Gotebo school district after being recently selected as the Oklahoma Middle School Principal of the Year by the Oklahoma Association of Secondary School Principals.

In other news, a high-risk pool for Oklahomans who are unable to get health insurance has been launched. To qualify for the program, applicants must have been without insurance for at least six months and must have been denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Premiums will range from $137 to $704 a month. Applications can be submitted online and coverage may begin as early as September 1.

I want to give my thanks to those folks who came out to the Lomega Community Fair and the 25th Annual Seiling Rodeo Parade. We had a wonderful time. It’s great being out in the district.

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
Add your reaction Share

Private Sector to Boost State

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Boeing has announced that it will be relocating 550 jobs to Oklahoma, and I couldn’t be more pleased to see the private sector give us a boost. Washington lawmakers think they know best and that job creation starts with government-sponsored work. They couldn’t be more wrong. It is the private sector that creates jobs.

Examples are abundant in Western Oklahoma. Pioneer Telephone in Kingfisher, the U.S. Gypsum plant in Southard, Wheeler Brothers in Watonga, Northwest Electric in Woodward, Cimarron Electric in Kingfisher, and Temtrol in Okarche are just a few companies in my district doing their part to create jobs. They lead by example where the federal government fails.

The Boeing jobs are coming to us in part because of the better business climate in Oklahoma due to low taxes and incentives for bringing high-quality jobs to the state. We also benefit from a rich aviation history and growing aerospace sector. Oklahoma is no longer just an oil-and-gas state, but a state with a growing diversity of industries that will propel us forward to new heights.

Already, we have weathered the recession better than most states. An Aug. 3 Tulsa World story notes that the state’s Business Conditions Index continues to be strong, adding jobs at an annualized rate of 2 percent even as businesses have expanded the work hours of current employees. I think that if we continue to emphasize infrastructure spending such as roads and bridges, and maintain or cut current tax levels, we will be in an even stronger position. We also need to push harder for true lawsuit reform and continue to improve our workers’ compensation system.

The Boeing Company’s C-130 Avionics Modernization and B-1 programs will be relocating from Long Beach, California, to Oklahoma City. High tax states will continue to lose business during these hard economic times, while pro-growth states like Oklahoma will benefit.

I want to remind you that the tax-free shopping weekend begins at midnight on Thursday. Items that will be tax exempt include clothing, shoes, diapers, and baby receiving blankets. Accessories and sports shoes will not be tax exempt.

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on the ideas and problems presented to me by constituents. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.
Add your reaction Share

Contract Awarded to Reconstruct Woodward County Highway

OKLAHOMA CITY – A contract was awarded this month to reconstruct a section of US Highway 183 in Woodward County, State Sen. Bryce Marlatt and State Rep. Mike Sanders recently announced.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the project involves grading and resurfacing three miles of the highway beginning from the SH-50 Junction extending southeast. Workers will also be updating the drainage system.

Sen. Marlatt, (R-Woodward), said the State Transportation Commission awarded a nearly $9.18 million contract on the project to The Cummins Construction Company.  The Enid company was the lowest of seven bidders for the job, said Rep. Sanders, (R-Kingfisher).

Once construction begins, the project is estimated to be completed within ten months.
Add your reaction Share