Committee Work after Midpoint

By Rep. Mike Sanders

House lawmakers have passed the midpoint of the legislative session and we are busy working on Senate bills in committee.

The House Human Services Committee approved a bill to penalize the misuse of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. Current law prohibits the use of TANF monies at a liquor store, casino or adult entertainment establishment. Senate Bill 1706 would reduce the benefits to a first-time violator by 25 percent for three months. Subsequent violations would result in larger reductions for longer periods of time.

A bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee would prohibit sex offenders from legally changing their name. In several Oklahoma cases cited by proponents, a registered sex offender was able to work as a school employee after legally changing his name. In the House Public Safety Committee, we approved a bill to require registered sex offenders from entering a public park.

Last year, lawmakers and the governor enacted a bill to get government regulation out of the way of individuals selling home-baked goods. A bill approved by the House Agriculture and Wildlife Committee would build on the Home Bakery Act. It would create a process for the sale of low-risk food products from home, at farmers markets, through cooperatives, or at membership-based buying clubs.

A Senate committee approved a House bill to bolster alternative education programs in the state. House Bill 2640 would require two alternative education programs in each school district. The legislation is tied to a $3.65 million request for additional funding to the state aid formula.

Lastly, the American Legion has closed its state office. It appears that some criminal charges may be brought against an individual there due to financial discrepancies. It caught my eye because I have a bill moving through the process to provide a sales tax exemption to the organization. I found that news to be very disheartening for such a reputable organization. I am still committed to getting the sales tax exemption for all the local chapters in Oklahoma that continue to do their good work in the state regardless of the situation that has been brought to light. There are approximately 28,000 members of the American Legion in Oklahoma and about 285 posts. The veterans that make up the organization have sacrificed so much for all of us. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

We have more committee work in the upcoming weeks. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at (405) 557-7407.

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