Census Participation is Critical

Census Participation is Critical

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

If every Oklahoma household were to fill out and mail back the 2010 Census forms, which they should have received by now, we could receive additional representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. A correct count is needed to assist in services like those provided by non-profit organizations, and draw increased interest from employers and large retail stores who may want to relocate to the area.

According to a recent story by the Tulsa World, Oklahoma’s mail response rate is less than 52 percent and below the rate of 35 other states. Even though the 2010 Census will affect the state for the next decade, not enough of us are participating. I have also learned that some individuals have not received the form and can call 1-866-872-6868 to receive one after April 12. I urge everyone to please fill out this critical form.

I am proud to announce that one of the bills I have filed at the request of local county sheriffs has been signed into law. Our local sheriffs believe that the overuse of the red and blue flashing light combination endangers the public because it desensitizes people and leads them to no longer associate it with true emergencies. The new law is set to take effect Nov. 1. It will allow Class AA wreckers to use red and blue light combinations at the scene of an emergency. Other towing and wrecker services would be allowed to use amber lights instead.

Last week, a House committee passed important legislation that will increase election fraud penalties. Senate Bill 1921 increases the maximum punishment for felony violations of the election code from a fine of $5,000 to $50,000 and from two years imprisonment to five years. SB 1921 increases the penalty for misdemeanor violations of the election code from a fine of $1,000 to $10,000. Additionally, the bill makes it a felony of the election code to: vote with and submit an absentee ballot issued to another person, make  false application for an absentee ballot, cause the cancellation of a qualified voter’s registration, cause the submission of voter registration forms with false information, or conspire to commit election fraud.

Last year, several ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) employees were accused of submitting false voter registration forms – including some signed “Mickey Mouse” and several in Nevada listing Dallas Cowboys players’ names, though none of the players live in the state. Another Nevada ACORN worker was caught filling out voter registration forms using names and addresses copied out of the telephone book.

I would like to commend Governor Brad Henry’s signature this week of three bills that aim to protect life in Oklahoma. Senate Bill 1890 forbids an abortion based solely on the sex of the child. Senate Bill 1891 protects the right of health care professionals to refuse to take part in the destruction of innocent human lives. Senate Bill 1902 makes it illegal for a person other than a physician to provide or administer the chemical abortion pill, RU-486, for the purposes of inducing an abortion.

The Oklahoma Chapter of America Mothers Inc. chose two winners from Kingfisher County this year. The organization chooses a Mother of the Year and hosts an essay content annually. This year, Stacy Cline of Hennessey was chosen as Young Mother of the Year. Maddie Myers of Kingfisher Middle School took first place in the statewide essay contest with “What My Mother Means to Me.” Congratulations to both Stacy and Maddie on their outstanding achievements.

I will keep you regularly updated on the activities of the Legislature through this column. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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