Rewarding Heroes

By Rep. Mike Sanders

A bill creating public safety awards to honor our state’s first responders as well as citizens who perform acts of heroism has been sent to the governor for her signature.

I was the House author of Senate Bill 324, which creates the Oklahoma State Award program. A nine-member committee will design the Oklahoma Medal of Valor and the Oklahoma Purple Heart Award. These awards will be given to those in our Department of Public Safety and citizens who display heroic acts of valor or are injured or give their lives in the call of serving another or saving a life. They will in no way resemble our military’s highest honor. 

The bill passed the House last week with a vote of 84 to 6, and now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

The governor last week signed 11 bills into law, a good sign for early April.

This week in committee, I led the charge against Senate Bill 602, which would have allowed the state Department of Agriculture to siphon off up to 10 percent of the Rural Fire Protection Fund, wresting it from local control. This fund, which is intended for maintenance and operations needs, has already been cut 30 percent over the last five years. Both Republicans and Democrats stood together to shoot down this poorly worded bill in a 13-4 vote. I am always going to protect our rural way of life and those who serve our rural communities.

Also this week, the House and Senate convened a joint session on Tuesday to observe the 45thInfantry Appreciation Day, a time to honor our state’s National Guard for helping in times of emergency and tragedy. I appreciate all who are willing to put their lives on the line in defense of our country and our nation’s liberty. I also want to thank the families of these service members for their sacrifice.

Committee work, except for the full Appropriations & Budget Committees, wraps up this week. In the House, we continue to consider Senate bills and the same is happening with our House bills in the opposite chamber.

We are moving closer on budget negotiations. We have nearly seven weeks left in the legislative session. A budget has not been written yet despite some fake news accounts from two large newspapers. The House and Senate continue to work together on this issue. We’ve been meeting since last October. We held full budget hearings with five state agencies that receive almost 80 percent of the state’s appropriated budget before session began. We’ve moved on legislation that will restore money to the state’s General Revenue Fund and we continue to look at tax credits and incentives as well as other cost-savings and revenue measures. We will have a balanced budget before the end of session and protect things important in rural Oklahoma.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. I can be contacted at Mike.Sanders@OKHouse.Gov or(405) 557-7407.

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