Major Legislation on the Move

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

This legislation session is off to a fast start. New House rules have sped up the process and several major pieces of legislation are already on the move.

House Bill 2140 would consolidate seven state agencies into one. The consolidation is modeled after the central services governance structures used in Montana, Indiana and Utah. Lawmakers are hoping that it will save the state millions of dollars. Central services agencies provide employee benefits, purchasing, and financial services to other agencies. Their function is strictly bureaucratic.

Eminent domain reform and workers’ compensation reform are also making their way through the legislative process. House Bill 1226 gives property owners the right to buy back property taken through eminent domain if the property goes unused. They could buy it back at the price they were given for it or, if it had lost value, at the current appraised value. Senate Bill 878 would overhaul of the current workers’ compensation system in order to reduce litigation costs and speed up the resolution of cases.

Uninsured motorists will be unable to sue for pain and suffering if they are in an accident if House Bill 1045 passes. I could not be more pleased to see such a bill. It would protect law-abiding citizens from frivolous damages from individuals who are currently breaking the law.

I am pleased to announce the passage of several bills I have authored. House bills 1050, 1051, 1052, and 1060 passed through committee last week.

Lastly, some of you may have received a recorded call from Alabama criticizing my vote against a proposed House rule. The rule would give every bill a hearing, a practice that would be impractical and inappropriate because we have more bills filed than we have time to hear during the legislative session. There are also bills that Oklahomans wouldn’t expect us to hear. For example, a senator filed a bill this year to legalize marijuana. A bill like this doesn’t even deserve the time of the House to consider it, when we have very serious issues we need to be sure to spend time discussing like our current budget crisis and lessening the impact it will have on our state.

I did vote for new House rules that end the practice of using a chaotic process to sneak through unpopular proposals. The rules increase the opportunity lawmakers and citizens have to review proposals. We also ended the use of non-voting joint conference committees so that everything that we do would be open to public scrutiny.

I believe strongly in what you elected me to do as your state representative and want you to know how seriously I take each bill that I vote on. There isn’t one vote that I cast without being fully aware of the impact it has on each of you and Oklahoma. I’m sure this will be the first of many calls to come, considering the current political climate we’re in but please don’t hesitate to contact me about the facts. I have an open door policy and want you to know that I’m always here for you if you need me.

I would like to thank my pages this week, Scott and Shelby Dobrinski of Okeene. They are both freshmen at Okeene High School. I would also like to wish our district high school basketball teams good luck in regional and area tournaments. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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