By Rep. Mike Sanders
Early next week Public Safety Day will be observed at the state Capitol. Lawmakers in the House will be considering a number of bills related to public safety.
Most of the bills I’ve passed in my nine years as a legislator have been aimed at promoting publicsafety, whether it is protecting children from sexual predators, protecting motorists from drunk drivers, or protecting rural firefighters or law enforcement officers that in turn protect the public.
There are a number of bills I support this year that will enhance public safety.
I authored House Bill 1116, which allows statements, made by a vulnerable or incapacitated person who alleges abuse, neglect, financial exploitation or any violent act to be admissible as evidence in a criminal or juvenile proceeding if the court finds the statement to be reliable. To be admissible, the adverse party must have been notified of the intention to offer the statement at least 10 days in advance of the proceedings. The bill passed in the Judiciary – Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee with an 11-1 vote and will now be considered by the full House. This bill protects the vulnerable.
I co-authored House Bill 1482, which passed in the Judiciary – Criminal Justice & Corrections Committee this week with an 11-1 vote. The bill will protect children by making it a felony crime to possess drugs within 1,000 feet of a public or private school or public park and possessing drugs in the presence of children under the age of twelve. Drug crimes involving children can still be charged as a misdemeanor at the discretion of prosecutors, and other options such as drug court and deferred or suspended sentences also are still available. The bill leaves intact the language of State Question 780, but adds this protection for children that was intentionally left out of the ballot language of the question.
I also co-authored House Joint Resolution 1002, otherwise known as Marsy’s Law. This would put to the vote of the people a proposed constitutional amendment that would give victims of crimes rights that are equal to those of the accused. These would include the right to: privacy; reasonable and timely notice of all proceedings; be heard in any proceeding during which a right of the victim is at issue; reasonable protection; notice of any release or escape; and a number of other protections.
I voted yes on a bill this week that would consider all rape by instrumentation cases as rape in the first degree. House Bill 1005 received a 95-0 vote in the House. This vote sends a strong message to Oklahomans that we are serious about protection laws from this heinous crime. The bill was a follow-up to House Bill 2398, which passed both chambers of the Legislature last year and was signed into law in June. These bills were necessary because it was discovered that perpetrators of rape crimes were getting less time on sentences than for much lesser crimes.
Also this week, the House passed the REAL ID Act with a vote of 78-18. House Bill 1845 gives Oklahomans choices. Those who wish can apply for a REAL ID compliant with federal law that will allow access to federal buildings, military bases and commercial aircraft. Those concerned with the privacy of the information required for the new ID can retain their current Oklahoma driver’s license.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. I can be contacted at Mike.Sanders@OKHouse.Gov or (405) 557-7407.