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.
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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.
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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.
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AMES APPROVED FOR PAINT GRANT

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 keepoklahomabeautiful.com

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Protecting Our Birthright

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

To be born an American is one of the greatest birthrights in this world, one that has been bought at a high price with the lives of countless soldiers. Our vote is a central part of this birthright, and ensuring elections record each vote properly is one of our duties at the Capitol.

This year I was proud to support a new law that increases the penalties voter and election fraud. To me, few things are worse than using fraud to deprive an honest citizen of the power of his or her vote.

Senate Bill 1921 increases the maximum punishment for those convicted of felony and misdemeanor violations of the election code. It increases the fine from a maximum of $5,000 to $50,000 and the prison sentence from a maximum of two years to five years for felony convictions. It also increased misdemeanor punishments from a fine of $1,000 to $10,000 and expands the type of actions that are considered felony acts.

Another central part of our birthright is the privilege of benefiting from the security and services created by our tax dollars. Due to the federal government’s failure to address illegal immigration, our security has been compromised and services that should benefit Oklahomans sometimes benefit others. Many Oklahomans would like to see the state address this problem.

Before his arrest, Alberto Gomez-Gomez moved to Oklahoma City from Arizona following that state’s tough new immigration legislation. According to The Oklahoman, he is believed to be a high-ranking member of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel and a major supplier of methamphetamine. Oklahoma is traditionally a territory of the Juarez Cartel and if the Sinaloa Cartel is relocating some of its operations here, we could see an escalation of violence and methamphetamine problems in our state. We must match or surpass Arizona’s zeal in order to protect Oklahoma from these criminals.

Though there are illegal immigrants who do not have a negative impact on the state, there is ample evidence that many are a drain on our state’s resources. The Oklahoman story indicates that cartel members and criminals are among them. We have already began to address illegal immigration problems,. This year, we enacted a fee on wire transfers, to make it more difficult for illegal aliens including cartel members to send back money to their countries of origin. Under 2009 legislation, our state prisons would be able to send non-violent illegal immigrants to federal agents for deportation.

I am prepared to support even tougher immigration and election fraud laws in the upcoming session. It is my pleasure to help protect the birthright so many have sacrificed their lives for.

I will be traveling through the district during the interim and will keep you regularly updated on 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.
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Reflections on our Independence

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

For me, Independence Day is a reminder of the determination and sacrifices it took to create and preserve the country we enjoy today. The colonists who dared to declare their independence from Great Britain envisioned a nation that would be ruled by the people rather than an elite faction of society. They wanted a nation of empowered citizens working together to improve their lives as one.

The United States of America inspired millions of immigrants to make long voyages from Europe and other countries to taste the way of life and freedom made possible by our founding fathers and the sacrifices of Revolutionary War soldiers. Americans took advantage of their new freedoms and helped grow a nation that surpassed all others, including their former colonial rulers. By the time Europe was seized by two World Wars, we had become powerful enough to be the deciding factor in stopping the growth of fascist empires.

Since that time, the United States has continued to involve itself in world affairs, resolving conflicts abroad and, when necessary, eliminating threats to our national security. Today’s troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are striving to stabilize a region from which some of the greatest threats to our national security have come in recent times.

On this Independence Day, I would like to thank our veterans and our current military servicemen and women for their service. Our nation has existed for 234 years because of the courage of those who put themselves in harm’s way. Freedom is not free.

Our nation was founded on Christian principles of equality. God loves all of his children equally. We should always strive to protect our rights and serve as watchdogs against government intrusions. Especially in hard times such as these, it is important that we continue the American traditions of thriftiness and grit. If we do so, I believe we will continue to be the greatest nation in the world.

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.
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Sanders Praises Supreme Court’s Decision to Lift Gun Ban

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Mike Sanders praised the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down state and local bans on firearm ownership.

The Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that the Chicago gun ban was unconstitutional. A lower court will decide what parts of the Chicago law will have to change.

Sanders, a card-carrying NRA member, said he was one of a number of state lawmakers who signed an amicuscuriae (or “friend of the court”) brief in support of the gun ban challenge.

“I was not surprised to see the Supreme Court rule that the gun ban was unconstitutional,” Sanders, R-Kingfisher, said. “They had previously ruled that the District of Columbia’s gun ban was unconstitutional and that the Second Amendment guarantees our right to have guns in our homes for self-defense. The only reason that the ruling was not the final word on gun bans was that the District of Columbia isn’t a state. Now we have a ruling which makes it clear that states cannot ban an individual’s right to bear arms.”

Sanders said gun rights are near and dear to the heart of many rural Americans, and especially to Oklahomans.

“The case serves as a vindication of what many have long believed and argued, that the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear arms,” Sanders said. “The case ends an almost three-decade old handgun ban in Chicago and will limit the number of other restrictive gun laws that city has in place.”
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