Legislative Batting Average

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Working at the Legislature is a team sport. Most of the bills that were part of the conservative agenda were carried by legislative leaders this year. This was true in the case of lawsuit reform and worker’s compensation legislation, both issues I campaigned on. I added my input to the process.

On the other hand, most lawmakers get requests from their district. These bills can be more difficult to get through the process, because there is not a coalition working to get them passed. I am pleased to report that on this front, I had a high legislative batting average.

It was especially important to me to have House Bill 1061 signed into law. The legislation was my attempt to correct the unforeseen consequence of a bill I ran last year that restricted the use of emergency red-and-blue lights. Last year’s bill was intended to limit the use of the lights by tow trucks, but also had the effect of limiting their use by road workers. I realized the mistake after the legislation had been signed into law. The Department of Transportation showed me the danger of having these county and state road workers on the job without emergency lights. I drafted House Bill 1061 in the hopes of increasing road safety.

House Bill 1060, a bill requested by local county commissioners, was also signed into law. This legislation will make it easier for counties to take on road and bridge projects. The constituents of my district have made it clear they expect to have safe, updated roads and I was proud to find a way to aid that cause in addition to pushing for road funding in the state budget. House Bill 1051, which clarified oversight of county inventory records, was a request bill by local court clerks that I was able to get signed into law.

I also carried three Senate Bills in the House that were signed into law. Senate Bill 304 designates the Red River bridge on the way to Wichita Falls, Texas, as the “President George W. Bush Bridge”. Senate Bill 187 will allow sheriffs to accompany a reserve deputy sheriff in place of a CLEET-certified deputy sheriff. Senate Bill 902 separates the law governing motor vehicles from recreational vehicles.

I was disappointed to see House Bill 1835 die in the Senate. It would have created a better firefighter tax credit system to ensure our rural firefighters have the training they need to combat the various types of fires and natural disasters that we have seen frequently in Western Oklahoma. I do plan to run it again in the 2012 legislative session. Next year will be my third attempt at getting a tax exemption passed for the American Legion. With the many organizations that do get a tax exemption and the scope of service the American Legion provides, a tax exemption for them is a no-brainer. I think the hard decisions created by the economic downturn were the only obstacle these two bills faced.

I look forward to new constituent requests that I can turn into legislation next year. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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