Veterans, Workers’ Comp and Transportation

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

One of the more disturbing, ongoing stories taking place in state government is the treatment of older veterans at the state’s long-term veteran care centers. In Claremore, a resident was killed after being left in scalding water. Five residents of an Ardmore center were sexually abused and another resident died due to neglect.

The House Veterans and Military Affairs Committee amended Senate Bill 629 by a unanimous vote to mandate that nine additional inspectors be hired to specifically oversee the state’s seven veterans centers. Until 2003, the state health department inspected these centers, but have since left inspections up to the federal government.

The Senate author has said he approves of the changes to the bill. House lawmakers will soon get the opportunity to vote for the legislation.

House lawmakers are also reviewing Senate Bill 1062, the workers’ compensation legislation. The advisory board that oversees the workers’ compensation court have criticized the bill, calling it unworkable. For this reason, the House Judiciary Committee will be looking at whether or not there is a need to further amend the legislation. Unfortunately, it looks like it may have a bit of a bumpy ride through the legislative process, but I and many of my colleagues continue to push hard for its passage.

I have been following the retirement of longtime Transportation Director Gary Ridley. During his tenure as head of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, the agency implemented the eight-year plan and took on the additional projects created by the legislative push to increase road and bridge funding. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that he used to work for ODOT in Kingfisher County in the 1970s.

I have had the honor of working closely with Secretary Ridley during my time as chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Transportation. Although he will step down as the ODOT director, he will remain as Secretary of Transportation in Governor Mary Fallin’s Cabinet. I look forward to working with his successor, Mike Patterson, who I am familiar with from his many years with the agency. I think it will be a smooth transition.

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at (405) 557-7407 or emails me at

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