In my last column, I gave a rundown of some of the legislation that will become law this year that will positively impact Oklahomans. This week, I want to take a closer look at some of the reforms I authored that were signed into law by the governor.

House Bill 1003 gives a sales tax exemption to the American Legion. This organization has served our state veterans, their families and our youth for more than 100 years. The American Legion in Oklahoma holds clothing drives, feeds homeless veterans, teaches our youth the value of patriotism, and they maintain a focus on national security, among so many other services.

This is legislation I hoped to pass from the moment I got into office, but a national then a state recession made that difficult until this year. It is an honor to get to reward this worthy organization in this manner.

Another bill I authored, House Bill 2051, allows retired paid firefighters to perform serve volunteer departments without it affecting their current retirement benefit and without it counting as an accrued retirement benefit against the state’s pension plan. This is a continuation of legislation I passed several years ago that eliminated the 45-year-old age limit for new volunteer firefighters by giving them the ability to join a volunteer fire department without the requirement they be added to the state’s pension plan.

Our rural residents and businesses depend on the services of volunteer fire departments to keep them safe when facing deadly wildfires and other emergencies. State law, however, formerly prohibited retired firefighters or those over the age of 45 from serving as volunteers without affecting the state’s pension plan. Yet, many have said they are willing to serve without needing the pension. The law previously enacted already has added 300 volunteer firefighters to our ranks. More will be added now.

House Bill 1228, another bill I authored, requires professional development training to help teachers better recognize students with dyslexia. Research shows that with early intervention these students can learn to read and perform other subjects on grade level. This will put them on a trajectory toward academic success and greatly improve their lives.

I worked with the Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma working group on this bill. Members of the working group will travel to school districts throughout the state to provide training and materials without cost to the local district. Materials also will be available online.

One other piece of legislation I would like to highlight is House Bill 2632, which I co-authored. This bill will better regulate Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) and allow people the freedom to choose their local pharmacies without having to pay higher prices for prescription drugs. This legislation, signed into law by the governor, will allow our small, locally-owned pharmacies the same discounts on drug prices as those enjoyed by larger, corporate owned pharmacies and the same freedom to inform their customers of all of their choices.

In future columns, I will discuss road and bridge projects in House District 59.

Remember, I’m still at the Capitol and in our district even though the legislative session has adjourned for this year.

If I can help you in any way, I can be reached at (405) 557-7407 or mike.sanders@okhouse.gov.

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