The Norman Transcript


February 22, 2013

Sparks: Capitol in big need of repair



Sparks said some important issues are coming to the forefront this legislative session, and he’s happy to be part of the discussions and decision-making.

“This year, I’ve been named the vice chair of the Senate Insurance Committee because in the past few years, I’ve inserted myself into the insurance issues at the Capitol, and now I’m part of that dialogue.”

New senator Rob Standridge, R-Norman, recently had a bill move out of committee. The bill deals with compounding pharmacies, an area in which Standridge has professional expertise.

Sparks said he is looking to build a relationship with Standridge as he has with Norman’s state House members Emily Virgin, D-Norman, and Scott Martin, R-Norman.

“I think the Senate membership looks to each new leader to see what their life experience and expertise might be,” Sparks said.

Sparks has some bills of his own in the areas of education and veterans affairs that are advancing.

Senate Bill 423 will allow Oklahoma high school graduates to qualify for in-state tuition, even if they briefly moved away. SB 423 has passed out of committee and is on the Senate floor.

“We should want those people who are coming back home to advance their education,” he said.

Sparks also wants to close a loophole that will exempt veterans who are 100 percent disabled from paying annual mobile home taxes when those manufactured homes are on rental property, such as in a trailer park. Current Oklahoma law exempts veterans with 100 percent disability from property taxes.

Another bill, SB 891, would allow universities to go after boosters who illegally pay players and cause the schools to be penalized. Under the proposed measure, universities could take the offending boosters to civil court to recoup money lost because of the penalties incurred as a result of those illegal activities.

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