By Rep. Mike Sanders
I passed both of my bills dealing with dyslexia out of the House this week with near unanimous votes on each.
House Bill 2804 would require any student enrolled in kindergarten through third grade in an Oklahoma public school who is not meeting grade-level reading targets after the beginning of the school year to be screened for dyslexia beginning with the 2022-23 school year. This follows legislation I passed last year that provides a professional development day for teachers across Oklahoma to help them better recognize signs of dyslexia in their students.
House 2889 makes the State Department of Education responsible for updating the Dyslexia Handbook, which already is available for teachers, parents and school administrators. This just puts in statute that it will be annually updated by the SDE with input from stakeholders.
All of this legislation came from recommendation by the Dyslexia and Education Task Force and the SDE as well as Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma.
This will be a game changer for students struggling with dyslexia. With early intervention and the proper help learning to read, these students will now enjoy tremendous academic success.
Also this week, the House passed a bill that recognizes Israel as one of our state’s largest trading partners and our top ally in the Middle East. House Bill 3967 specifies that unless exempted by the secretary of state, the state of Oklahoma will not enter into contracts with companies that advocate boycotts, divestments or sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The people behind the BDS movement aren’t just advocating boycotts and sanctions, they would deny Israel the right to exist as a nation and would like to see the Jewish people cease to exist altogether. As a Christian, I just cannot watch blindly as this movement takes hold. I co-authored this bill with a host of other lawmakers. Oklahoma now joins 28 other states in adopting similar legislation.
I also was happy to support legislation that will help us place the national motto “In God We Trust” on state buildings. This motto is already on many of our federal buildings, and many local police and sheriff’s offices have chosen to put the motto on patrol cars. A majority of Oklahomans, including myself, do trust in God, and declaring this as a state is a way to honor our heritage and the blessings and protections we’ve enjoyed from our creator.
Another bill that passed this week is one I co-authored. House Bill 3298, authorizes the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority (OCIA) to bond $17.5 million and make use of a 65% federal match of $50 million to acquire property and invest capital into improving and repairing some of the high-risk flood-control dams across our state. Many of these dams are more than 50 years old and have reached their life expectancy. It is important to protect the homes and cities beneath these structures, many of which supply water to surrounding communities.
We continue to hear numerous bills each day on the House floor. March 12 is the third-reading deadline for bills to be passed in their legislative chamber of origin. That leads to a few weeks of long days and even a few night sessions. After that, we will begin hearing Senate bills in committees and on the House floor.
As always, if you have questions or concerns, I can be contacted at Mike.Sanders@okhouse.gov or (405) 557-7407.