Studying the Issues

By Rep. Mike Sanders

House lawmakers are eagerly awaiting the approval of studies they have requested to examine problems they would like to address in the 2012 session. I am keeping an eye on several studies that I will participate in, if approved.

As a member of the House Energy and Utility Regulation Committee, I will take part in any studies that affect the oil and gas industry. One requested study would examine the state’s energy policy in relation to federal mandates and our economic interests. Another study requested by several lawmakers would look at why there are price discrepancies between Cushing and other world crude oil trading markets, which costs local oil and gas producers and royalty owners millions of dollars each year.

Sex offenders continue to be a threat to Oklahoma communities and the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act is the subject of one requested study. The act was approved by Congress in 2006 and instructs states to organize sex offenders into three tiers representing their risk of committing future offenses. High risk offenders must register for life, moderate risk offenders for 25 years and low risk offenders for 15 years. The federally-mandated tier system relies on the offense of record to determine the placement of offenders and some state lawmakers are concerned that the offense of record might not accurately reflect their chance of becoming a repeat offender.

Another requested study would seek to identify the most effective way to manage sex offenders within communities. I have been researching other state laws concerning sex offenders. I am most intrigued by a North Carolina state law that says that if you are convicted in a court of law of a sex crime, physical abuse and/or mental abuse, you will not be allowed to live or dwell with any minors including your own children. I think we must continue to create tougher laws to protect our children from these monsters.

With families still severely impacted by the destruction from the tornado damage, I anticipate the approval of two studies that will look at ways to increase the construction of storm shelters in the state. If approved, lawmakers would learn about available incentives to encourage shelter construction and the feasibility of a certification program that would limit liability to the shelter owner.

Two other study requests are worth noting. The chair of the House Common Education Committee has requested a study on best practices in education reform and the House Government Modernization Committee chair has requested a study on increasing transparency in the legislative process.

Many of the studies will be held in the fall. At that time, I will be able to tell you of their findings. 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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