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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Independence

By Rep. Mike Sanders

As I consider the United States of America’s 243rd Independence Day, I’m reminded of the reasons the colonists sought independence from Great Britain in the first place.

In the text of the Declaration of Independence is a long list of grievances against the king of the British Empire. “He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.”

The list continues: swarms of officers sent to harass the people and who eat their substance; taxation without consent; abolishing local laws; suspending Legislatures; waging war against the states, and much more. It’s obvious from its reading that the king, who dwelt far from his subjects, had become so out of touch with their needs and wishes they felt no other recourse than to throw off the bounds of his tyrannical rule that no longer represented the will of the people.

To this day, United States citizens are still fighting for such independence. It’s why we hold frequent elections, why the states and their citizens are constantly checking the power of the federal government. It has been hard to hold our nation together, and yet for 243 years we’ve succeeded. And I have every hope that despite current political rancor we will continue to be one nation under God. Flawed as we sometimes are, the United States of America still has the best government on the planet. And just as the birth of this great nation was celebrated in the beginning, it is worth celebrating today.

John Adams, one of the framers of the Declaration of Independence and a founding father of our nation, would write to his wife, Abigail, that the occasion of the vote for independence “ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.”

He continued that he was well aware of the “toil and blood and treasure that it will cost us to maintain this declaration,’ but that the end would prove well worth the means.

It has taken much toil and blood and treasure to maintain our independence from numerous threats. After the Declaration was signed, many of the same men who argued for and signed it would fight in the Revolutionary War. Many would lose their possessions and their lives. Their descendants would fight numerous other battles to keep our nation free. We fight many internal battles today to maintain our unity and our position as a world power. But as Adams predicted, the end has proven well worth the means. We live in liberty and can pass that legacy to our children.

Happy Birthday United States of America. Long may we be independent and free!

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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Closer Look at New Laws

By Rep. Mike Sanders

In my last column, I gave a rundown of some of the legislation that will become law this year that will positively impact Oklahomans. This week, I want to take a closer look at some of the reforms I authored that were signed into law by the governor.

House Bill 1003 gives a sales tax exemption to the American Legion. This organization has served our state veterans, their families and our youth for more than 100 years. The American Legion in Oklahoma holds clothing drives, feeds homeless veterans, teaches our youth the value of patriotism, and they maintain a focus on national security, among so many other services.

This is legislation I hoped to pass from the moment I got into office, but a national then a state recession made that difficult until this year. It is an honor to get to reward this worthy organization in this manner.

Another bill I authored, House Bill 2051, allows retired paid firefighters to perform serve volunteer departments without it affecting their current retirement benefit and without it counting as an accrued retirement benefit against the state’s pension plan. This is a continuation of legislation I passed several years ago that eliminated the 45-year-old age limit for new volunteer firefighters by giving them the ability to join a volunteer fire department without the requirement they be added to the state’s pension plan. 

Our rural residents and businesses depend on the services of volunteer fire departments to keep them safe when facing deadly wildfires and other emergencies. State law, however, formerly prohibited retired firefighters or those over the age of 45 from serving as volunteers without affecting the state’s pension plan. Yet, many have said they are willing to serve without needing the pension. The law previously enacted already has added 300 volunteer firefighters to our ranks. More will be added now.

House Bill 1228, another bill I authored, requires professional development training to help teachers better recognize students with dyslexia. Research shows that with early intervention these students can learn to read and perform other subjects on grade level. This will put them on a trajectory toward academic success and greatly improve their lives.

I worked with the Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma working group on this bill. Members of the working group will travel to school districts throughout the state to provide training and materials without cost to the local district. Materials also will be available online.

One other piece of legislation I would like to highlight is House Bill 2632, which I co-authored. This bill will better regulate Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and allow people the freedom to choose their local pharmacies without having to pay higher prices for prescription drugs. This legislation, signed into law by the governor, will allow our small, locally-owned pharmacies the same discounts on drug prices as those enjoyed by larger, corporate owned pharmacies and the same freedom to inform their customers of all of their choices.

In future columns, I will discuss road and bridge projects in House District 59.

Remember, I’m still at the Capitol and in our district even though the legislative session has adjourned for this year.

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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Legislation Becomes LawLegislation Becomes Law

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Now that the legislative session is over, I want to look at some of the reforms passed this year that were signed into law by the governor that will have a positive affect for Oklahomans.

In addition to giving teachers a second pay raise in two years, the Legislature also approved a pay raise of up to $1,400 for state employees for the second year in a row. These people perform much work for the citizens of Oklahoma – building roads, keeping our courts functioning, renewing our licenses and so much more. We must keep their pay competitive so we don’t lose them to the private sector and make it more difficult for Oklahomans to receive the services they need.

Correctional workers also will get raises of $2 per hour. These people do incredibly hard jobs to keep the public safe and yet get paid very low to work in such stressful circumstances. This will help cut down on understaffing and high turnover in our state correctional facilities and lead to improved safety for the public, staff and those incarcerated. Overall, the appropriation to the Department of Corrections increased by about $38 million, or 7.4 percent, and now totals $555.5 million.

Lawmakers also approved measures that will allow the governor to name the director of five of the state’s largest agencies – the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuses Services, the Department of Corrections and the Office of Juvenile Affairs. Up to now, the governor had very limited power over state agencies and their spending of taxpayer dollars. Instead, the power resided in the hands of unelected board members who oversee these agencies. Now, the governor will have more direct oversight so he can function like a true CEO for the state.

On the same line of better government accountability and efficiency, the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency also was signed into law by the governor. This office will increase transparency and accountability of the spending of taxpayer dollars by evaluating agency budgets to ensure efficiently and to cut waste and that programs and services offered to state residents are needed. This is similar to Congress’ Government Accountability Office. It is a legislative-level office, not an executive branch office, that will ensure lawmakers get accurate and timely information from the agencies so we can make better informed decisions for citizens.

The Legislature also wisely approved and the governor signed a measure that closes the gap between reimbursement rates for nursing homes and the actual cost of care. Under the bill, providers must increase staffing and provide additional training and show they have improved the quality of care for their residents. The coalition of elder-care advocates that pushed for this called it a “landmark reform” that will “dramatically increase the quality of care and quality of life” for nursing home residents. In addition, the governor signed a measure that will require informed consent by a nursing home resident or their legal guardian before they are prescribed anti-psychotic drugs. Oklahoma was No. 1 in the nation for nursing home residents taking an anti-psychotic drug without a psychiatric diagnosis. Instead they were often prescribed these powerful medications to modify their sleep or behavior. This bill will improve their lives.

Also signed into law was a measure to help us fully implement the new constitutional provisions of “Marsy’s Law” passed by Oklahoma voters in November 2018 as State Question 794. This law includes a new set of stronger constitutional rights for victims of crime, granting them more information and input during the criminal justice process. The House bill works to ensure these new rights are reflected in Oklahoma law and properly implemented. For instance, the bill clarifies a victim’s right to be notified of the release or escape of an accused perpetrator; it outlines the right of a victim, upon request, to confer with a district attorney; and it creates a requirement that law enforcement give victims written notification of all of their rights under the new law. Victims should have every right to be informed about the trial and the subsequent movement of their accused perpetrators. This will help.

In future columns, I will detail some of the legislation I was able to pass this year, and then I’ll give an update on area road and bridge projects.

Remember, I’m still at the Capitol and in our district even though the legislative session has adjourned for this year.

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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Governor Signs Budget

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Gov. Stitt last week signed the state appropriation’s bill, which I believe accomplished great things for Oklahomans without raising any new taxes.

This budget received overwhelming support in both the House and the Senate, and ensures we are properly funding core government services. It also puts Oklahoma on a path toward the largest savings account in state history – something much needed after coming through one of the steepest recessions in state history. By setting aside $200 million in this appropriation’s bill, we will have nearly $1 billion dollars in savings by the end of this fiscal year. Continuing to build our savings account will keep us from having to make severe cuts to core state services in times of future economic downturn. That’s prudence.

More transparency and oversight over the spending of taxpayer dollars is ensured by adding money to the state auditor and by funding the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency. These two offices will help us better assess the programs and services being offered to Oklahomans and the efficiency of spending.  That’s accountability.

Lawmakers prioritized education in this budget. We gave common education (preK-12) an additional $158 million this year over last. This allows us to give Oklahoma teachers their second pay raise in two years – a first in state history. This brings teacher pay to the top in the region and will help keep seasoned teachers in our classrooms as well as help us recruit new teachers. We fully funded the Reading Sufficiency Act, making sure we are helping children in early grades learn to read on grade level. We also put $74.3 million additional dollars into our classrooms this year. Our CareerTech centers will receive $18 million for pay raises and course additions, and higher education will receive an additional $28 million to bolster research programs and provide a professor pay raise. Also, we put $7.5 million more toward concurrent enrollment courses for high school juniors and seniors so they enter college with credits. This creates stability for our students and puts them on a path toward success.

Transportation is another area of high importance. We restored $30 million to the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Fund, a priority for me as I work with county commissioners constantly to improve the state of roadways in our district and throughout the state. We also fully fund the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s eight-year plan. With recent flooding, these funds will be all the more necessary in days to come.

On the public safety front, we are giving our correctional officers a 14 percent pay raise. This equals about $2 an hour increase. This is needed to keep seasoned people in these very difficult jobs and will help with understaffing and high turnover at our corrections facilities. We are also helping to pay for two new trooper academies to help add more Highway Patrol troopers to our state highways. This keeps the public safe.

We also provided $37.7 million for another pay raise for our state employees. This helps close the gap between those who provide government services to our citizens and those who work in the private sector.

In health care, we added $62.8 million for Graduate Medical Education programs to support physician training to increase the number of doctors working in rural hospitals. We reallocated $105 million to increase provider rates for physicians, hospitals and nursing homes. Again, this will help our rural areas most of all. We saved $29 million in a new preservation fund to preserve Medicaid provider rates when the federal government’s 3-year rolling average results in a rate decline. We put $2 million toward decreasing the Developmental Disability Services (DDSD) wait list and $8 million to increase DDSD provider reimbursement rates by 4 percent. And, we dedicated $4.6 million to increase immunizations and staff at county health departments throughout the state. This is taking care of the health care needs of our most vulnerable Oklahomans.

For rural Oklahoma, we added $1.1 million for wildfire mitigation and additional resources for rural fire fighters and $600,00 for rural fire grants. We also appropriated $700,00 to help with wildfire prevention and protection. Our rural fire departments are the backbone of our defense in rural areas. I fought hard for this funding. We also gave $1.5 million to improve rural flood control dams, and boy is that needed now more than ever. We allocated $1 million to our county extension offices to help them continue to provided needed services to our rural residents and to provide for our great 4-H programs for our youth. The Department of Agriculture is able to add a veterinarian to help farmers and ranchers protect against potential diseases in animals and crops. And, we added $3 million to Rural Economic Action Partnerships (REAP) programs to help us attract jobs and economic activity to our rural areas.

I’m proud of this budget and all it offers to Oklahomans. Now, it’s time to begin work on the next budget and on legislation for next year.

On a separate note: I’m praying for all affected by recent storms and flooding. Many private property owners lost homes and have suffered damage to other property; many farmers and small business owners are likewise affected. I am in constant communication with the governor’s offices and our area emergency managers and county officials to make sure needs are being addressed. 

Remember, I’m still at the Capitol and in our district even though the legislative session has adjourned for this year.

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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Memorial Day Heroes

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Memorial Day was first known as Decoration Day – a day when people gathered to decorate the graves of loved ones who had given their lives in service to their country. I have to admit; as a child I didn’t quite understand why people would want to decorate graves. Now, of course, as an adult, I can’t think of enough things we could do to honor the men and women who gave their lives in service to our great nation. Placing wreaths, flowers or flags on graves and speaking words in tribute of those who served and died to protect our liberty and freedom seems so small a gesture. 

I heard a compelling message in which the speaker suggested the next time we find ourselves at a cemetery, we take a long look at headstones and record the limited information we find: a name, the dates of birth and death, sometimes a brief description such as loving mother, brother, sister, son, so on. All of life boiled down to such few words. In fact, the speaker said the most important thing on the tombstone is the dash – the little mark between the day of birth and the day of death. That little dash represents all of life. The message concluded with something like, “Life goes by so quickly. How will you live your dash?”

So let’s talk for a moment about the men and women we will honor on Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, if you prefer. I hope we will all consider the way these people lived their dashes – that too short a period of time between the days of their births and the days of their deaths.

They lived with courage. Perhaps they were afraid to fight in battle, but they did it anyway because they knew the cause was important, and they knew the fate of a nation depended on them. They lived selflessly. They willingly sacrificed their lives so their children and fellow countrymen could live in safety, security and freedom. They lived all in – they didn’t wait for someone else to do what they felt called to do. They didn’t wait for better timing or until circumstances were just right. They didn’t wait until their finances were in order or until it was a more convenient time. They did what was asked of them even though it cost them their lives.

For most of us, we wish for life to go on until we are as the Old Testament describes, old and full of years. But many of the people we will remember on Memorial Day died in the very prime of their lives. Many never got the opportunity to raise a family, see their children graduate high school or college, see their grandchildren grow up, serve in a career other than the military or any of the myriad things the rest of us too often take for granted. Our heroes lived lives that for us seem too short.

Yet, even though the loved ones of these military members miss them to this day, we can gather on Memorial Day with smiles on our faces and warmth in our hearts. Because, we know that while earthly life is over for these men and women, eternal life is never over. In fact, life has become something dearer for them than any of us on this earth can even imagine. They have been welcomed into the arms of their savior with the words, “Well Done, thy good and faithful servant.”

They lived their dashes to the fullest. And for that, the rest of us are forever grateful. As we decorate their graves, let us pledge to always remember their sacrifice and to live purposefully and with gratitude.

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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Budget Agreement Reached

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Gosh it feels good to report this: a budget agreement between the House, Senate and the governor has been reached, and it’s one that increases education funding, state savings, rural health care services, agriculture and public safety and fully funds state infrastructure projects while promoting jobs and healthy economic growth – all without raising additional taxes.

This budget devotes about $203 million to education – from preK to college and CareerTech. We are giving teachers a raise of about $1,220. For years we’ve heard about the need to increase teacher pay, so we’ve done that both last year and this, bringing our teacher pay rate to the top in the region. This will keep our teachers from leaving for other states and will help us retain and recruit more traditionally certified teachers for our public school classrooms. This pay raise is going to go to teachers in schools that are on the funding formula, which is 97 percent of Oklahoma teachers. Those schools that are off the funding formula will still be encouraged to give their teachers this raise as well. I believe all teachers in Oklahoma should receive this raise.

We also are putting about $74.3 million into the state funding formula with the expectation that school boards and superintendents will allot this money to our classrooms, so we can reduce classroom sizes and give our teachers and students the materials and support they need. For the first time, we also are fully funding the Reading Sufficiency Program so we can better help students learn to read on grade level. Plus, we are fully funding concurrent enrollment programs for high school juniors and seniors so they can earn college credits before they graduate.

This budget gives $30 million to our County Improvements for Roads and Bridges fund. I have stood with our county commissioners, and I’m extremely happy we are able to put some of their money back. I’m also happy to report that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s eight-year plan is fully funded. Infrastructure has been a top priority for me, and I fought for this funding for years.

We also increased provider rates for our rural nursing homes and are paying for more physicians’ training for rural hospitals.

In addition, we’re increasing pay for state employees and for our correctional workers who work to keep our citizens safe. We also are appropriating money for two new Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper academies to increase the number of troopers who serve Oklahomans. By funding these two academies, we will be able to put 80 new Highway Patrolmen on our highways by 2020.

This budget also allots more funding for rural fire management and gives additional resources for our rural firefighters. This will help our Rural Fire Defense Fund and will help with our 80/20 Grants. These monies are very important to Northwest Oklahoma and very important to our rural, volunteer firefighters who are the backbone to our Oklahoma fire service.

We’re also saving money in this budget - $200 million into a state savings account, which is something I have fought for tirelessly this year. We’ll be building up to $1 billion in the state’s Rainy Day fund by the end of this year. This will keep us from cutting core services the next time the state experiences an economic downturn.

Another plus of this budget is the focus on job growth and economic development through specific programs under the governor’s purview and the Department of Commerce.

I’ll give more details of the state budget in the weeks to come, but for now I’m grateful to report this deal has been reached. It’s a positive for our area and for the state.

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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Governor Signs American Legion Tax Exemption

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Gov. Stitt this week signed a bill that will give the American Legion of Oklahoma sales tax-exempt status. The American Legion has served our Oklahoma veterans and their families for over 100 years, making sure they have clothing, food, health care and other services. They also help educate our youth about the value of patriotism and preserving liberty, and they keep a continual focus on national security. As the primary author of House Bill 1003, it was an honor to let the American Legion know this week that they can now look forward to this benefit.

Securing this tax exemption is something I’ve wanted to do since I got into office. Other organizations with similar missions already enjoy this exemption. But, as we all know, the state’s economy has been volatile for a number of years with the up and down price of oil and gas. We’ve finally hit better times, and for the first time in many years have a revenue surplus. This allowed unanimous passage of HB 1003 in both the House and Senate and gave the governor the confidence to sign this bill. I’m grateful for the support of this legislation.

In other news, the House Rules Committee voted recently to request an actuarial study to see how a 4 percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) would affect six state pension funds. The House this year ran legislation to implement a 4 percent COLA for retired teachers, firefighters, law enforcement and police, justices and judges and other public employees.

The state Senate, however, amended that to 2 percent and then sent the measure to the legislative actuary for further study. The House is asking the actuary to study the 4 percent COLA, which better matches retirees’ needs and requests. 

Some have suggested the solvency of the state’s pension funds would be negatively affected with a 4 percent COLA, so the actuary’s report should help determine that. The report is due before the beginning of the next legislative session, so we will know how to proceed with legislation next year.

Retirees welcomed the news that a 4 percent COLA was back within the realm of possibility as it has been about 12 years since they’ve seen an increase. Meanwhile, insurance costs and other living expenses continue to increase.

On a final note, House leadership is still in daily discussions with the Senate and the governor’s office to finalize the state budget. Education is the sticking point at this juncture. The House and the governor want to give Oklahoma teachers another $1,200 raise to get us to the top pay rate in the region. We then intend to put another $70 million increase into the state funding formula to better support our classrooms. The Senate would have us put all of the money into the formula or only offer the pay raise to the longest serving teachers. We’re close to a resolution. As always, I will keep you updated.

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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Governor Signs Bill to Grant American Legion Tax-Exempt Status

OKLAHOMA CITY – Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday signed a bill that will exempt the American Legion Department of Oklahoma from sales tax.

House Majority Leader Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, and Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, are authors of House Bill 1003. The measure previously passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

“The American Legion is our state’s largest veterans’ organization, serving in Oklahoma for 100 years,” Sanders said. “I want to thank them for all that they do on behalf of our veterans and their families as well as our youth. I’ve been working for many years to ensure the American Legion has the same tax-exempt status as other organizations with similar missions. I want to thank Senator Thompson for working to help secure passage of this bill and Governor Stitt for signing this legislation.”

Sanders made note of the American Legion’s many patriotic education programs and outreach ministries as well as their dedication to a mission of strong national security. He said he’s been working to secure passage of this tax exemption for many years, but the state’s down economy precluded such action until this year.

“I want to thank Governor Stitt and my fellow members for making this stand for Oklahoma veterans,” Thompson said. “When we say we honor and appreciate our veterans, it’s important to make sure that we’re backing up those words with actions. This modest tax benefit will help the American Legion throughout Oklahoma – an organization that continues to provide vital support and services to our veterans.”

The new law becomes effective July 1, 2019.

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Governor Gets American Legion Bill, signs CIRB Repayment

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