New Leadership Represents New Opportunity

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

As we get closer to the February 4th start of the legislative session, the Oklahoma State Capitol is beginning to bustle with energy as we take on session-only staff members and begin to organize ourselves for a busy year ahead.

On January 8th, House lawmakers formally elected Speaker T.W. Shannon and Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Jackson. These two members of the Legislature both represent Western Oklahoma and I believe their leadership will reflect an emphasis on many of the things that are important to rural Oklahomans, such as road and bridge infrastructure maintenance and economic development.

Although I have served in leadership roles, this will be my first year chairing a budget subcommittee. Last session, I served as the vice chair of the House Human Services Committee, which allowed me to become more familiar with the process of organizing and executing the committee schedule. This year, as chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Transportation, I will be coordinating with the full Appropriations and Budget Committee to vet and improve upon legislation dealing with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. My chairmanship on a budget committee makes me a member of the full budget committee, which will allow me to have a vote in committee on all budget-related legislation.

Western Oklahoma is a hot spot for energy companies. For this reason, I have always requested to serve on the House energy committees. Last year, the energy committee also oversaw environment and utility regulation. This year, those two policy areas will form a separate committee. The committee I am serving on will be the House Energy and Aerospace Committee, which will give me an opportunity to look at policies regarding both the aerospace and energy industries.

I will also serve on the House Agriculture and Wildlife Committee, which will allow me to safeguard the interests of our agricultural producers and outdoor industries. Government has too often overregulated small farmers and other businesses in a misguided effort to squash even the smallest environmental concerns. I am committed to block ill-thought out regulations when they are proposed and tailor other bills to the needs of the district.

Right now, I am in the process of putting the finishing touches on legislation, which must be filed by January 17, 2013. I will tell you more about them after that date.

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

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