End of First Round

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

Thursday, March 3, marked the end of House committee consideration of legislation originating in our chamber. For the next few weeks, House bills now go to the floor for consideration and a vote. The House committees will now consider Senate bills and Senate committees will be examining legislation we have passed.

Immigration reform was passed out of committee three days before the deadline. House Bill 1446 would make it a felony to engage in human trafficking and a crime to pick up illegal immigrants for the purpose of employing them. The legislation would also bar illegal immigrants from receiving state aid for their post-secondary education, allow state agencies to report illegal immigrants who apply for state or federal aid, require employers to verify the immigration status of potential employees, and outlaw the practice of illegal immigrants seeking work as an independent contractor.

An important cost-savings reform was also approved by the House Government Modernization Committee this past week. House Bill 1304 would consolidate information technology services under the Office of State Finance. The state currently uses 76 separate redundant financial tracking systems, 22 unique time and attendance systems, 17 imaging systems, 48 reporting and analytics applications, 30,000 desktop computers of which 2,000 are not in use, 25 different desktop operating systems, 133 email systems, and 27 SQL Server and Oracle systems. Oklahoma is spending $35.6 million more on IT than the average spent by other state governments. The goal is to save $140 million through this legislation.

One of my bills is headed over to the Senate after House lawmakers voted unanimously in favor of it. House Bill 1051 would make each elected county officer responsible for their inventory records, files and reports. Currently, this responsibility rests solely with the county clerk. My other bills have passed their respective committees and will now go to the full House. I am also the House author on nine Senate bills, which I will explain and talk about in detail in future columns.

The Senate continues to pass lawsuit reform measures, including the latest, Senate Bill 862. The legislation will ensure that defendants remain responsible for the portion of damages for which they are at fault. Under current law, defendants can be responsible for paying a higher percentage of awards to plaintiffs, beyond the percentage of their fault, based on their ability to pay. Basically, the richest guy in the room is the one who pays all the damages, even if he is only 10 percent liable. I believe you should pay for the damages you caused, and not those caused by another’s actions.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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