By Rep. Mike Sanders
Fires in our area are mostly contained, and I thank God for that. I’m still working with county and state officials and local fire departments to help those affected by these terrible blazes. I’ll be out again this weekend to assess damaged areas.
Sen. James Lankford, Congressman Frank Lucas, Gov. Mary Fallin and Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and the governor all have visited communities in our district ravaged by these fires. I thank all of them for coming. I also want to again thank our local firefighters and our county workers who have worked tirelessly to battle these blazes, as well as to people from all across the state who have donated hay, food, clothing, money or time to help the victims of these terrible tragedies. What I witnessed over the last two weeks is truly humbling.
The governor recently declared a state of emergency, which will allow state agencies to make emergency purchases and acquisitions needed to expedite the delivery of resources to local jurisdictions. The declaration also marks a first step toward seeking federal assistance.
While we’ve been battling these fires, work has been ongoing at the state capitol. I want to point out a few bills that will help protect children and victims of crime.
Last week the governor signed into law House Bill 2552, which establishes a foster care bill of rights for children in Department of Human services (DHS) custody. Contained are rights regarding placement, safety, privacy, communication and personal growth. The rights are put in one place easy to access for children who are of age to do so and for foster parents. The measure also directs DHS and child-placing agencies to develop grievance procedures for children in custody, ensuring those are resolved no more than 60 days after they are filed.
The governor also signed House Bill 2651, an effort to prevent human trafficking. This permits Oklahoma’s public safety commissioner to choose training material from Truckers Against Human Trafficking for education purposes to supply to drivers applying for Class A, B or C commercial licenses. The material includes training on recognizing, preventing and reporting human trafficking. Oklahoma’s position at the crossroads of the nation makes it particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. Truck stops, unfortunately, have become places where victims are transferred. Supplying this material to commercial drivers is hoped to help save lives and stop this growing problem.
Victims of sex offenders now will have additional protection thanks to House Bill 1124, also signed into law by the governor. The law is named after Danyelle Dyer, of Bristow, whose attacker moved next door to her last year. This bill prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet and loitering within 1,000 feet from their victims’ homes. Under current Oklahoma law, sex offenders are banned from living near places like schools and playgrounds, but it did not apply to a sex offender living near his or her adult victim. This bill closes that loophole and hopefully will provide victims such as Ms. Dyer even greater relief.
On one final note, no opponent filed to run for my House seat, so I’m automatically re-elected to serve the next two years. Nellie and I are so humbled and blessed by this incredible honor to represent our friends and neighbors in House District 59. I promise you I will work as hard for you in my last term as I have the last 10 years. Thank you for the opportunity.
If I can help you with anything, please feel free to contact me. I can be reached at (405) 557-7407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.