House Majority Leader Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, was recently named the 2019 Oklahoma Legislator of the Year by the American Legion Department of Oklahoma in recognition and appreciation of his outstanding service and assistance to the organization’s programs and activities.
The award was presented Saturday, July 20 in Shawnee at the Oklahoma American Legion Convention before an audience of about 500.
Sanders is the author of House Bill 1003, signed into law by the governor in May, which gives a sales tax exemption to the American Legion of Oklahoma. Sanders said he sought the exemption as a way to aid the numerous programs offered by the organization that has had a presence in the state for 100 years.
“The American Legion in Oklahoma works to help our local veterans, their families and our youth through various outreach ministries, patriotic education programs and a continuous dedication to strong national security,” Sanders said. “While it is humbling and a great honor to receive this recognition, this is certainly not about me, but about doing the right thing to secure benefits for our veterans who have made our state and nation proud through their service and their sacrifice.”
Sanders said this was the first piece of legislation he filed 11 years ago when he was first elected as a state representative. With both a national and state recession, the legislation was initially sidelined. Sanders continued to run measures, however, and on his seventh attempt he was able to get the bill all the way through the legislative process and signed into law by the governor. He said he appreciates the help of Sen. Roger Thompson for running in the bill in the Senate this year.
Thompson, who serves as the Senate Appropriations chair, said he was gratified to serve as principal Senate author of the measure and help secure its passage.
“This is something Representative Sanders and I absolutely agreed was long overdue, and the value of this tax break in terms of services provided to our veterans bolstered our support,” said Thompson, R-Okemah. “I was very pleased to be able to work with him to get this legislation signed into law.”
This tax exemption, Sanders said, will assist the state American Legion in offering its Boys State and Girls State programs as well as in its many missions, such as local coat drives, pancake suppers and much more that help veterans and their families in numerous Oklahoma communities.