The City Sentinel Staff Report
OKLAHOMA CITY – House Majority Leader Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, recently attended the ceremonial bill signing for House Bills 2804 and 2877.
H.B. 2877 strengthens the role of victims’ impact panels in helping to stop driving under the influence (DUI) offenses in Oklahoma and will help reduce the number of repeat offenders.
The measure was a request by victims’ impact panel programs currently operating in Oklahoma. It follows up on successful DUI legislation Sanders passed in 2016 that strengthened prosecution of repeat drunk drivers by creating the Impaired Driving Elimination Act, moving all DUI cases to a court of record, ensuring district attorneys statewide would have access to records of DUI offenses to reduce repeat offenses.
H.B. 2804 requires dyslexia screening for kindergarten through third-grade students not reading on grade level beginning in the 2022-23 school year. The bill builds upon House Bill 1228, passed last year, which provides professional development for teachers across Oklahoma to help them better recognize signs of dyslexia in their students.
Sanders said both pieces of legislation are items of significant importance to him during his legislative career.
“I have fought always on the side of victims of crime, to see that their voices are heard and their needs considered in matters of criminal sentencing,” Sanders said in a statement sent to The City Sentinel and other news organizations.
“At the same time, I’ve been a strong advocate for children diagnosed with dyslexia who too often got left behind their peers in reading and other academic subjects because their condition remained undetected or undiagnosed.
“I’m incredibly grateful to have won passage of these two important pieces of legislation and to see them become part of the Oklahoma statute. Victims of drunk drivers will now have an opportunity to speak to those who commit this heinous crime, and children statewide will benefit from screening that will help them learn to read on grade level and achieve academic success.”
Both bills were signed into law in May and took effect July 1.
Ceremonial bill signings allow lawmakers and those influential in helping to draft the legislation or those most affected by it to attend.
Sanders thanked State Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, and State Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, the Senate authors of H.B. 2804 and H.B. 2877, respectively, for their work in getting the bills passed in the state Senate.
In an exchange with The City Sentinel newspaper, Senator Bice said, “I’m proud to have worked with Rep. Sanders on H.B. 2804, which requires dyslexia screenings for children who are reading below grade level, an often missed diagnosis that could have a severe impact on future learning outcomes. Teamwork between the House and Senate is imperative to pass important legislation such as this and I’ve enjoyed partnering with Rep. Sanders on several bills that help move our state forward.”
Sanders also thanked members of the Dyslexia and Education Task Force, the Decoding Dyslexia Oklahoma and the State Department of Education for their help in drafting H.B. 2804, and members of the victims’ impact panel programs for their help with H.B. 2877. Representatives from all groups attended ’s bill signings.
Rep. Sanders represents District 59 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Dewey and parts of Blaine, Canadian, Kingfisher and Woodward counties.
NOTE: Pat McGuigan contributed to this report which was originally posted in The City Sentinel print edition (August 2020).