Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Women Cope with Delivery of Unplanned Pregnancy Better than Abortion

In a recent post was noted a study on the effects of abortion.  Here is a link to the study and information from that study. There are other studies as well related to abortion and health risks in this post.
Women who have abortions are 81 percent more likely to experience subsequent mental health problems, according to a new study published by Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists. The greatest increases were seen in relation to suicidal behaviors and substance abuse.
The meta-analysis examined and combined results of 22 studies published between 1995 and 2009 and included data on 877,181 women from six countries.   All 22 studies revealed higher rates of mental health problems associated with abortion for at least one symptom, and many for more than one symptom.
Using a standardized statistical technique for combining the results of multiple studies, the meta-analysis revealed that women with a history of abortion face higher rates of anxiety (34 percent higher) and depression (37 percent higher), heavier alcohol use (110 percent higher) and marijuana use (230 percent higher), and higher rates of suicidal behavior (155 percent higher).
The study also found that women who delivered an unplanned pregnancy were significantly less likely to have mental health problems than similar women who aborted unplanned pregnancies.  Women with a history of abortion were 55 percent more likely to have mental health problems than women who did not abort an unplanned pregnancy.
The meta-analysis was conducted by Dr. Priscilla Coleman, a research psychologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Coleman is the most published researcher in the field of abortion and mental health.
A statistical estimate of the overall population attributable risk revealed that up to 10 percent of mental health problems among women might be attributable to abortion.
According to Dr. David Reardon, who has published more than a dozen studies investigating abortion’s impact on women and is the director of the Elliot Institute, publication of this quantitative meta-analysis is long overdue.
“This is the first objective comparison of all the major studies,” Reardon said.  “The tables demonstrate that when you put the results of all these various studies side by side in a standardized way, there is a remarkable consistency in the trend of findings. Despite the differences in study design, which have different strengths and weaknesses, the studies are all consistently pointing in the same direction.”
In another study International health experts have published that 94 percent of maternal deaths associated with abortion are not identifiable from death certificates alone.
Proper tracking of pregnancy associated deaths, they report, requires the linking of death certificates to the deceased women’s medical records. Only in this way, they conclude, can accurate information about recent pregnancies be determined — information that is frequently missing from death certificates and autopsies.
The study, completed by researchers from the National Research and Development Center for Welfare and Health in Finland, shows that the long held presumption that abortion is associated with fewer deaths than childbirth does not hold up once the pregnancy history of women is actually investigated using record linkage.
Previously, it has been widely assumed that the mortality rate associated with abortion was only one-sixth that of childbirth. But those estimates were based primarily on information gathered only from death certificates or other public records.
Proper identification of pregnancy history, the researchers found, reveals that the death rate associated with abortion is actually three times higher than that of childbirth.
Even before this study discrediting the accuracy of accessing pregnancy associated deaths from death certificates alone, the CDC’s reports on abortion associated deaths had been severely criticized by abortion opponents.
One of the chief complaints was that the top physicians in the CDC’s abortion surveillance unit had clear conflicts of interest since they were not only outspoken advocates for expanding abortion services but also, when not on government payroll, practicing abortion providers.
In a paper published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2009, a Canadian research team examined data from 37 studies and found that having a prior abortion increased the risk of subsequent preterm birth by 35 percent, while having more than one prior abortion increased the risk by 93 percent.1 (Preterm birth is defined as a birth that takes place before 37 weeks gestation.)
In other words, children whose mothers had a previous abortion were more likely to be born prematurely, putting them at greater risk for problems such as low-birth weight (which has been linked to physical and developmental problems), epilepsy, autism, mental retardation and cerebral palsy. A research team looking at data from 2002 estimated that prior abortions led to 1,096 cases of cerebral palsy among babies born prematurely that year.

Heartbeat Informed Consent Act

In summary the Heartbeat Informed Consent Act states that a woman and/or father of the child to be aborted will have to listen to the heartbeat of the child before the abortion is preformed. The parent(s) will not have to hear the heartbeat if the abortion is for a medical emergency.

The Oklahoma Legislature finds that:
1.  The presence of a heartbeat in a woman's unborn child may be a material consideration to many women contemplating abortion;
2.  The presence of a heartbeat in a woman's unborn child is a developmental fact that illustrates to the woman that her baby is alive;
3.  On about the twenty-first or twenty-second day after fertilization, the heart of an unborn child begins to beat;
4.  The heartbeat of an unborn child can be visually detected at an early stage of pregnancy using an ultrasound machine at four (4) to four and one-half (4.5) weeks after fertilization on transvaginal ultrasound and about five and one-half (5.5) to six (6) weeks after fertilization on transabdominal ultrasound;
5.  The heartbeat of an unborn child can be made audible at later stages, including by use of a handheld Doppler fetal heart rate monitor;
6.  Less than five percent (5%) of all natural pregnancies end in spontaneous miscarriage after detection of cardiac activity.  A fetal heartbeat is therefore a key medical indicator that an unborn child is likely to achieve the capacity for live birth;
7.  The observation of a heartbeat in a woman's unborn child when a heartbeat has been detected is an important component of full informed consent;
8.  Ensuring full informed consent for an abortion is imperative because of the profound physical and psychological risks of an abortion.  As the Supreme Court has observed, "The medical, emotional, and psychological consequences of an abortion are serious and can be lasting" (H.L. v. Matheson, 450 U.S. 398, 411).  The woman's decision whether to abort "is an important, and often a stressful one, and it is desirable and imperative that it be made with full knowledge of its nature and consequences" (Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52, 67).  "Whether to have an abortion requires a difficult and painful moral decision" in which "some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained" and "[s]evere depression and loss of esteem can follow... The State has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed.  It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know" (Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124, 159-160);
9.  Requiring providers to give a woman an opportunity to observe her unborn child's heartbeat is constitutionally permissible and the ultrasound image of an unborn child is truthful, nonmisleading information.  "In attempting to ensure that a woman apprehend the full consequences of her decision, the State furthers the legitimate purpose of reducing the risk that a woman may elect an abortion, only to discover later, with devastating psychological consequences, that her decision was not fully informed.  If the information the State requires to be made available to the woman is truthful and not misleading, the requirement may be permissible" (Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 882); and
10.  Recent research taking into account twenty-two (22) studies with control groups and more than eight hundred seventy-seven thousand (877,000) women over a fourteen-year period finds that women who have had an abortion have an eighty-one-percent increased risk for mental health problems and that ten percent (10%) of the mental health problems of women who have had an abortion are directly attributed to abortion.
The provisions of this act shall not apply to an abortion provider in the case that the abortion is necessary to avert the mother's death or in the case of a medical emergency.
 Any abortion provider who knowingly performs or induces any abortion shall comply with the requirements of the Heartbeat Informed Consent Act. Prior to a woman giving informed consent to having any part of an abortion performed or induced, if the pregnancy is at least eight (8) weeks after fertilization, the abortion provider who is to perform or induce the abortion or an agent of the abortion provider shall, using a Doppler fetal heart rate monitor, make the embryonic or fetal heartbeat of the unborn child audible for the pregnant woman to hear.  An abortion provider or an agent of the abortion provider shall not be in violation of the requirements of this subsection if:
1.  The provider or agent has attempted, consistent with standard medical practice, to make the embryonic or fetal heartbeat of the unborn child audible for the pregnant woman to hear using a Doppler fetal heart rate monitor;
2.  That attempt does not result in the heartbeat being made audible; and
3.  The provider has offered to attempt to make the heartbeat audible at a subsequent date.

Bill to Outlaw Laser Sights for Hunting

Senate Bill 1420 will make the use of a laser sight illegal for hunting. Except for battery powered scoping devices that project a light or dot inside the scope and pin sight lights on archery equipment, no person shall use a laser sighting device as a hunting aid.  As used in this section "laser sighting device" means any artificial light or any form that casts or reflects a beam of light onto or otherwise illuminates wildlife.
The provisions of this act shall not apply to persons who are one hundred percent disabled as certified by a physician licensed in this state or any state which borders this state, if the person is hunting on private property and is accompanied by a licensed hunter.
The bill has passed the Committee on Tourism and Wildlife and has been sent to the Senate floor.

Oklahoma Riot Control and Prevention Act

Senate Bill 1760 will amend the Oklahoma Riot Control and Prevention Act to state that “Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow any official of a municipal or state entity to prohibit or suspend the sale, ownership, possession, transportation, carrying, registration, transfer and storage of firearms, ammunition and ammunition accessories during a declared state of emergency, that are otherwise legal under state law.”
The law currently reads
§21-1321.4.  Acts which may be proclaimed prohibited.
(a)  The Governor during the existence of a state of emergency, by proclamation, may, in the area described by the proclamation, which said proclamation shall not cover any part or portion of the state not affected by public disorder, disaster, or riot at the time said proclamation is issued, prohibit:
(1)  any person being on the public streets, or in the public parks or at any other public place during the hours declared by the Governor to be a period of curfew;
(2)  a designated number of persons, as designated by the Governor, from assembling or gathering on the public streets, parks, or other open areas of this state, either public or private;
(3)  the manufacture, transfer, use, possession or transportation of a molotov cocktail or any other device, instrument or object designed to explode or produce uncontained combustion;
(4)  the transporting, possessing or using of gasoline, kerosene, or combustible, flammable, or explosive liquids or materials in a glass or uncapped container of any kind except in connection with the normal operation of motor vehicles, normal home use or legitimate commercial use;
(5)  the sale, purchase or dispensing of alcoholic beverages;
(6)  the sale, purchase or dispensing of other commodities or goods, as he reasonably believes should be prohibited to help preserve and maintain life, health, property or the public peace;
(7)  the use of certain streets, highways or public ways by the public; and
(8)  such other activities as he reasonably believes should be prohibited to help preserve and maintain life, health, property or the public peace.
(b)  In imposing the restrictions provided for by this act, the Governor may impose them for such times, upon such conditions, with such exceptions and in such areas of this state the Governor from time to time deems necessary.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Graduated Licenses and Hand Held Devices

Senate Bill 182 amends the graduated license law to state no person, under the age of eighteen (18), who is issued a learners permit or intermediate license will be allowed to use a hand-held electronic device while operating a motor vehicle, unless the use of the hand-held electronic device is for a life-threatening emergency purpose.
Using a hand-held electronic device means engaging any function on an electronic device.
This has passed the Committee on Safety.

House Votes to Eliminate Lines for Driver’s License

Oklahomans may soon have an alternative to waiting hours at the Department of Public Safety to take the driving test required to get a license.
House Bill 2367, which is largely identical to several bills authored by state Rep. Mike Reynolds over the last seven years, would allow individuals who pass a driver’s education course at a certified driving school to be exempt from having to take a separate driving test administered by the Department of Public Safety.
Reynolds, who co-authored House Bill 2367 to implement a common-sense approach that would benefit the taxpayers over government bureaucracy, praised the bill’s passage.
“It is and has been a waste of taxpayers’ time and resources to require students to retake a driver’s test after they have already successfully completed a course and driver’s test at a certified driving school,” said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. “I have been fighting for this law for nine years and am pleased to see it move so close to becoming law.”
Reynolds noted that a similar exemption was in place until roughly a decade ago. Since then, teenagers have been forced to take driver’s tests administered by the Department of Public Safety in order to obtain a license.
In some cases, Reynolds said the lines are so long that it can take students two days to actually have an opportunity to take the driving test.
“When you have a student who has already completed a certified course, it makes no sense to force that youth to miss several days of school for duplicative effort,” Reynolds said.
House Bill 2367 passed out of the Oklahoma House of Representatives today. It now proceeds to the state Senate.

Committee Approves “Bridge to Literacy” Bill

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 28, 2012) – Literacy efforts aimed at children would get a boost from legislation approved by a House committee today.
House Bill 2676, by state Rep. Jabar Shumate, would create a “Bridge to Literacy” program designed to ensure every Oklahoma child can read at grade-level by the end of the third grade. To achieve that goal, the program would train volunteers to work as tutors through community organizations and local churches.
“A child who can read at grade-level is a child who has the opportunity to thrive throughout his or her school years and, after graduation, as an adult in the workforce,” said Shumate, D-Tulsa. “This legislation could make a big difference in the lives of many Oklahoma children.”
Citizen advocates lobbied lawmakers to support the bill on the first day of session, and several appeared at today’s meeting, including Dr. Major Lewis Jemison, pastor of the St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, who worked with Shumate to develop the bill.
“This legislation provides a fantastic opportunity for community based organizations and churches to help kids learn to read, and I believe its long-term impact will be tremendous,” Jemison said. “This bill provides another important way for community citizens to do their part and aid schools and parents.”
“Our citizens and community leaders see the need to increase the support system available to young children, and this program would provide that assistance in a cost-effective way,” Shumate said. “I am very pleased this legislation has cleared its first hurdle.”
House Bill 2676 passed unanimously out of the House Common Education Committee today. It now goes to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
The proposed committee substitute to House Bill 2676 directs the Oklahoma State Board of Education to establish the Oklahoma Bridge to Literacy Program to improve reading skills of children through the fourth grade. The State Department of Education must issue a request for proposals by October 1, 2012, and each October 1 after that, seeking applications for the program. Eligible applicants include nonprofit organizations; community-based programs, centers, organizations or services; and churches or religious organizations. Programs must establish reading programs for children through the fourth grade and may be offered before school, after school, on Saturdays or during summer months. The programs must focus on enabling children to read at the appropriate level and provide assessments and measure of reading skills to determine success. The state board must award grants by February 1 each year. The department also must provide reading instruction training, resource materials on reading instruction and remediation and other assistance. The board must provide for independent evaluations of programs and report to the governor, speaker of the House and pro tempore of the Senate each year.

Inman Bill to Ban Alcohol Sales at Self-Checkout Stands Progresses

Oklahoma City, OK (February 28, 2012) Most agree that advances in technology provide countless benefits to citizens who enjoy the convenience, efficiency and delivery of information and services. However, at times technology, such as in the case of self-checkout stands, provides an outlet in which human or computer error, along with deceptive tactics, presents opportunity for illegal activity.
One state lawmaker has filed legislation, HB 2725, to curb the sale of alcohol to minors by requiring face-to-face interaction for alcohol purchases; similar to what is currently required in the sale of cigarettes.
“Self-serve checkout stands are in most of our supermarkets as well as many grocery stores where alcohol is sold,” said Democratic Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City. “In these stores, one quarter of all transactions is occurring at these self-checkout machines. I know that the automated kiosks are popular with store owners as they claim it keeps prices competitive and they may also be convenient for some customers who are in a hurry. But an unfortunate consequence of these stands is that at times minors have been able to buy alcohol by cheating the system. My bill simply seeks to require that alcohol be purchased through a sales clerk and not a self-checkout machine.”
A recent study, Self-Checkout: Is It Reliable for Selling Alcohol?, by the Community Economic Development Clinic at the University of California, found that participants were able to override the self-checkout system or purchase alcohol without an employee’s assistance 20 percent of the time.
Low numbers of employees supervising self-checkout machines, obstructed views and long wait times enhanced the risk of error in monitoring alcohol purchase and may make it easier for customers to purchase alcohol illegally, either through deception or theft.
“I have personally witnessed times when the self-checkout stands were completely unmanned.  When stores are busy and understaffed, it’s difficult if not impossible to keep track of all the registers,” said Leader Inman. “Inadequate staffing, inconsistent monitoring and computer failures are allowing our young adults to illegally purchase alcohol, and I simply want to make sure that we stop any future instances in which a six-pack of soda is scanned, but a six-pack of beer is bagged.”
HB 2725 passed out of the Appropriations and Budget Committee yesterday and is now pending a hearing by the full body of the House

Funding Bill for Education and Public Safety

Senate approves supplemental funding bill for education and public safety
Senate members of the Joint Appropriations and Budget Committee have approved a $92.5 million supplemental funding bill for education and public safety, including $5,000 bonuses for National Board Certified (NBC) teachers. Senate Appropriations Chair Clark Jolley thanked committee members for their support of the legislation.
“Our leadership has agreed from the beginning that we would do everything in our power to ensure promises made to National Board Certified teachers would be kept. We’ve also made it clear that core services, including education and public safety, would be our number one priority,” said Jolley, R-Edmond. “This bill reflects that commitment.”
State School Superintendent Janet Barresi thanked legislative leaders for addressing additional funding for education.
"Dealing with a $100 million cut to education last year forced some hard choices. As the state's revenue picture has improved, I have continued to advocate for funding for National Board Certified bonuses. This is a step in the right direction to restore funding to programs that were cut as a result of last year's budget crunch. I am particularly pleased that the state is making good on its promises made to National Board Certified teachers,” Barresi said. “While our state continues to face fiscal challenges, the agreement announced today represents a prudent and responsible approach to difficult funding issues. I appreciate the work of House Speaker Kris Steele, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, Senator Clark Jolley, Representative Earl Sears and other legislative leaders in crafting this important supplemental agreement."
SB 1959 includes:
• $14.8 million for NBC bonuses
• $37.6 million for insurance benefits for teachers and support staff
• $34.1 million for the State Emergency Fund to reimburse local communities and counties for disaster assistance
• $5 million for the Department of Public Safety for a Trooper Academy
• $1 million for the State Medical Examiner for personnel and equipment required for national accreditation
The next step will be for the House members of the A&B committee to consider SB 1959. If approved, the bill next moves to the full Senate.
Gov. Mary Fallin praised lawmakers for their efforts.
“As I said in my State of the State address, emergency supplemental funding measures are required to meet state commitments and adequately fund needs in public safety, education, natural disaster recovery and necessary personnel and equipment upgrades at the Chief Medical Examiner’s office,” Fallin said. “I applaud the leadership in the House and Senate for putting these priorities on the forefront of their legislative agenda, and I will continue to work with them to ensure that the state is properly supporting core government services.”

We Can’t Wait- The Keystone XL pipeline

Senate Pro Tem Bingman Statement on TransCanada Gulf Coast Project
Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman issued the following statement Monday following TransCanada’s announcement of reapplication for a Presidential Permit application to complete the Keystone XL pipeline project as well as TransCanada’s intent to proceed with construction of a pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico. This section of pipeline is projected to create more than one thousand direct jobs in Oklahoma alone.
“Gas prices have more than doubled since President Obama’s first day in office. Meanwhile, we’ve got plenty of oil just sitting in a terminal in Cushing, Oklahoma, waiting to be refined,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “President Obama continues to stonewall a common-sense business plan in the Keystone XL pipeline—one that would create thousands of jobs and put us on the path to an energy future powered by American resources and ingenuity.”
“I applaud TransCanada for proceeding with construction of the southern portion of Keystone XL. Thousands of Oklahomans will see the benefit in jobs and dollars flowing into our economy, and our country will be more secure for it.”
Background Studies
In August 2011, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was released, kicking off a 30-day public comment period and 90-day federal agency comment period. The FEIS addressed all concerns raised by EPA in previous iterations, and was in fact largely supportive of the project. After weighing all options and outcomes, the State Department identified its “preferred alternative,” which was to build the pipeline as currently proposed. Just as the federal agency comment period neared completion and the State Department appeared ready to issue a National Interest Determination, on November 10, 2011, the Obama administration changed course and announced it would seek a new route and a new environmental study, which would take another 15 to 18 months.
The State Department itself has details about the extensive review process that has already been undertaken for the Keystone XL pipeline. Ironically, at least as late as December 31, 2011 (and perhaps still), the State Department website still says a final decision is expected by the end of the year. This shows that the full and comprehensive review was on track for completion until the political decision to delay the project yet again, this time for more than a year, until after the next election. Unfortunately a delay of this length could very well jeopardize the entire project.
The Obama administration points to concerns in the state of Nebraska as its reason for delaying the entire Keystone XL pipeline project. However, there is no federal role – and no Presidential Permit required – for an intra-state pipeline like the re-route within the state of Nebraska. The legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama makes clear that the State Department’s existing Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone XL pipeline stands. The law states any environmental review of the modified route through Nebraska will be performed by the State of Nebraska.
Congress members Responses
John Hoeven (R. ND) The Keystone XL pipeline represents a big step toward true North American energy independence, reducing our reliance on Middle Eastern oil and increasing our access to energy from our own nation and our closest ally, Canada, along with some oil from Mexico -- to 75% of our daily consumption, compared with 70% now.
That decades-long goal for our country is finally within reach, but we need to stay focused on the big picture, and we need to act. This $7 billion, 1,700-mile, high-tech transcontinental pipeline is a big-time, private-sector job creator, and it will also hold down the gas prices for consumers and reduce our energy dependence on an unstable part of the world. Finally, it will do so with good environmental stewardship.
That's why I, along with 44 of my colleagues from across the nation, introduced new legislation to move the project toward approval and construction after President Barack Obama's rejection of the project last month.
From an environmental perspective, the project has been under review since September 2008, more than three years, and the State Department's environmental review, completed in August 2011, found "no significant impacts on most resources" providing environmental restrictions are met. Further, our new legislation includes all federal and state safeguards and sets no time limit on Nebraska's ability to further review the pipeline's route through the state, the only portion of the route in contention. Additionally, 80% of the new Canadian oil sands development is being developed "in situ," meaning, it has a similar carbon footprint and emissions as conventional oil wells.
If the Keystone XL pipeline isn't built, Canadian oil will still be produced -- 700,000 barrels a day of it -- but instead of coming down to our refineries in the United States, instead of creating jobs for American workers, instead of reducing our dependence on a turbulent part of the world, that oil will be shipped to China.
It will have to be carried there on large oil tankers, creating more carbon emissions, and it will be processed at facilities with weaker environmental safeguards.
Frank Lucas, Oklahoma Representative said "This project would create 20,000 direct jobs and spur the creation of 118,000 spin-off jobs. Additionally, the pipeline will carry 100,000 barrels per day of oil from the U.S. Bakken to Oklahoma and Gulf Coast refineries, while in-turn easing our dependence on foreign countries for U.S. oil supply.
"This project is a huge opportunity to boost job creation in America. According to some estimates, construction of the pipeline would immediately create 13,000 American jobs including pipefitters, welders, mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators etc. In addition, another 7,000 manufacturing jobs would be created at the onset of construction.
“According to Trans Canada, the constituents of Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District will see tremendous benefits from the Keystone Pipeline project. In Oklahoma alone, it is estimated that the project will bring $1.2 billion in new spending in Oklahoma’s economy, increase personal income by $874 million, add more than $25 million in state and local tax revenues, and more than $1 billion in increased gross state product.
“President Obama has said job creation is his top priority, so why is he delaying this shovel-ready project that will create tens of thousands of jobs in America? At a time when we are facing an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, I believe the President should make the decision to proceed with construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which will put thousands of unemployed Americans back to work. The time to act is now. We cannot afford to ignore this opportunity to spur job creation and decrease our dependency on foreign oil.”
It is not just the Republicans who are disappointed in the stall tactics.
“As I said before, families in this country want elected officials to address the jobs crisis and restore economic growth. This project is estimated to create thousands of high-paying jobs and will provide access to an affordable, secure source of energy. The U.S. now relies on crude oil pipelines nationwide to move 71 percent of its oil and petroleum products.  The Obama Administration’s review of the project concludes that it presents no significant environmental impacts. This delay is just playing politics with American jobs and American energy security,” Jim Matheson D. Utah said in a press release.
U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire (D- PA) issued the following statement; "The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline permit is a missed opportunity to drastically turn this economy around. This pipeline would have created thousands of new jobs and helped to ensure our energy independence. Make no mistake, this pipeline will be built, but now Canadian jobs will be created and China and its markets will benefit from the oil transported through this pipeline. At a time when American families and businesses are saving to cover rising fuel costs, a pipeline to the Gulf Coast could provide a savings to them. I strongly urge the president to reconsider his objection to this pipeline. The positive impact it can have on our country is too great to pass up."
Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR): “U.S. Congressman Mike Ross of Prescott "We need jobs and we need jobs now.  Building and opening this pipeline are commonsense, straightforward actions our government can take to create private-sector jobs, boost economic development and lower the price of fuel for all Americans."
Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY): “With conflicts overseas driving up prices at the pump and so many Americans out looking for work, I am deeply disappointed that the White House has formally rejected the Keystone XL pipeline permit," said Owens. "As we work toward a long-term renewable energy program, beginning construction on the Keystone pipeline is the right short-term solution for the nation’s energy concerns and putting Americans back to work.”
According to a recent Pew Poll there is strong public support for building the pipeline. About two-thirds (66%) think the government should approve the building of the pipeline, while 23% say it should not be approved.
President “We Can’t Wait” Obama says he just didn’t have enough time to make a decision. But “Keystone XL has been planned for years,” notes the Wall Street Journal. USA Today says the permit process “has been going on since 2008” and the rejection comes “more than three years into the approval process.” As Speaker Boehner put it, “The president expedited the approval of the Solyndra loan project, but won’t approve a project that’s been under review for over three years.”

Friday, February 24, 2012

Attorney General Pruitt Joins Six Attorneys General in Lawsuit Defending Religious Liberty

Seven states are asking a federal judge to block an Obama administration mandate that requires birth control coverage for employees of religious-affiliated hospitals, schools and outreach programs.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court of Nebraska alleges that the new rule violates the First Amendment rights of groups that object to the use of contraceptives. The suit argues, “The First Amendment has for centuries, served as a rampart against government interference with religious liberty.”
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement, “Any rule, regulation or law that forces faith-based institutions to provide for services that violate their free exercise of religion, or that penalizes them for failing to kneel at the altar of government, is a flat-out violation of the First Amendment.”
Attorney General Scott Pruitt was among seven attorneys general to file a lawsuit Thursday against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, challenging the federal government’s requirement that religious employers offer health insurance coverage for sterilization services that conflict with their religious beliefs.
The complaint, filed today in U.S. District Court in Nebraska, challenges the constitutionality of the federal government’s impending mandate, claiming the requirement would be an unprecedented invasion of First Amendment rights to free speech, free exercise of religion and free association.
“Any regulation that requires a religious group to violate their lawful beliefs and practices goes directly against the ideals that our Founding Fathers set in place to protect Americans from an overbearing and intrusive government,” Pruitt said. “It conflicts with the most basic elements of freedom provided to all Americans to practice their lawful religion wherever, whenever and however they choose. For that reason, we have filed a lawsuit asking the Court to find the regulation unconstitutional.”
Earlier this month, the AGs sent a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner warning of a possible challenge in court if the mandate wasn’t withdrawn.
The states joining Nebraska are Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (S. 2043), which would block the requirement that religiously affiliated universities, hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions offer health plans that cover birth control — including abortion-causing “contraception” drugs such as RU-486 — without a co-pay or deductible. While churches, synagogues, and other places of worship have been exempted from the ObamaCare mandate, the President has decreed that religious employers must concur, giving them until August 2013 to comply.
“In effect, the President is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In announcing the bill, Senator Rubio said that President Obama’s “obsession with forcing mandates on the American people has now reached a new low by violating the conscience rights and religious liberties of our people. Under this President, we have a government that has grown too big, too costly, and now even more overbearing by forcing religious entities to abandon their beliefs.”
Rubio called his proposed measure a “common-sense bill that simply says the government can’t force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so.” Under the legislation, language in Obama’s 2010 healthcare law would be amended to stipulate that “no guideline or regulation … shall require any individual or entity to offer, provide, or purchase coverage for a contraceptive or sterilization service, or related education or counseling, to which that individual or entity is opposed on the basis of religious belief.”
Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) has introduced a companion bill, H.R. 3897, in the House; it has 8 cosponsors at present. In a similar vein, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has introduced the Religious Freedom Protection Act of 2012, S. 2092.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Oklahoma Economy Expands, But . . .

Oklahoma’s economy showed growth for a 23rd consecutive month in January as all but one revenue stream improved over the same month of the prior year, State Treasurer Ken Miller as he released the state’s monthly gross receipts report.
“Unfortunately, the one source of revenue on the decline – the gross production tax – is a key driver of Oklahoma’s economy and could moderate growth going forward until natural gas supply is reduced and prices rebound,” Miller said.
January receipts from all sources grew by 8.5 percent from the prior year and collections for the past 12 months are up by 9.6 percent. Gross production collections in January fell by 7.4 percent from the prior year.
“Collections from the past 12 months are almost $1.4 billion higher than when we hit bottom in February 2010. We have recovered 73 percent of the revenue lost from the peak of the expansion cycle in December 2008,” he said.
Miller said low natural gas prices follow simple supply-and-demand principles.
“The reduction in gross production tax collections follows a trend from the past few months caused primarily by record supply. The warmest winter in some 100 years is exacerbating the supply glut and as demand drops so do prices,” Miller said. “Most forecasts show prices will remain low for quite some time.”
Miller said he anticipates natural gas prices will impact revenue estimates when the State Board of Equalization meets later this month.
“The December estimate was based on gas at $4 per thousand cubic feet,” he said. “Prices are in the $2.50 range this week with little improvement anticipated in 2013.”
Miller said January’s economic growth comes primarily from income tax and sales tax collections.
“We see the impact from the last part of the Christmas shopping season with sales tax collections more than 10 percent higher than last January,” he said. Miller explained that January sales tax remittances represent taxable purchases made between mid-December and mid-January.
Starting in January, the state’s top personal income tax rate was reduced to 5.25 percent from 5.5 percent. Even so, collections for the month are 7.5 percent higher than in January of last year.
More concerns on the horizon
In addition to natural gas price concerns, Miller said local and international developments could impact the state economy in the coming months.
“Wednesday’s announcement from American Airlines that it plans to eliminate one-third of its Tulsa workforce, or 2,100 jobs, is a significant concern,” he said. “With the Tulsa Metro Chamber estimating a $300 million negative impact on the regional economy, these reductions are troubling not just for the direct effect on the workers and their families, but also the spillover effects on the aggregate economy.”
Oklahoma could also be affected by developments in the European Union, Miller said.
“We continue to watch developments relating to restructuring of the debt in Greece and Italy,” he said. “As part of the world economy, Oklahoma would not be immune to negative developments in Europe.”
January collections
The revenue report for January shows gross collections at $995.85 million, up $78.08 million or 8.5 percent from January 2011.
Gross income tax collections, a combination of personal and corporate income taxes, generated $375.97 million, an increase of $34.56 million or 10.1 percent from the previous January.
Personal income tax collections for the month are $337.96 million, up $23.51 million or 7.5 percent from the prior year. Corporate collections are $38.01 million, an increase of $11.05 million or 41 percent.
Sales tax collections, including remittances on behalf of cities and counties, total $361.99 million in January. That is $33.65 million or 10.2 percent above January 2011.
Gross production taxes on oil and natural gas generated $68.77 million in January, a decrease of $5.48 million or 7.4 percent from last January. Compared to December reports, gross production collections are down by $2.64 million or 3.7 percent.
Motor vehicle taxes produced $55.32 million, up by $1.16 million or 2.1 percent from the prior year.
Other collections, consisting of about 60 different sources including taxes on fuel, tobacco, horse race gambling and alcoholic beverages, produced $133.8 million during the month. That is $14.18 million or 11.9 percent more than last January.
Twelve-month collections
Between February 2011 and January 2012, gross revenue totals $10.760 billion. That is $938.7 million or 9.6 percent higher than collections for the previous 12-month period.
Gross income taxes generated $3.743 billion for the year, reflecting an increase of $456.93 million or 13.9 percent from the prior 12 months.
Personal income tax collections total $3.217 billion, up by $286.69 million or 9.8 percent from the February 2010 to January 2011 period. Corporate collections are $526.82 million for the period, an increase of $170.25 million or 47.7 percent over the previous period.
Sales taxes for the period generated $3.874 billion, an increase of $268.73 million or 7.5 percent from the prior 12-months.
Oil and gas gross production tax collections brought in $1.032 billion during the 12 months, up by $90.04 million or 9.6 percent from the previous period.
Motor vehicle collections total $664.21 million for the period. This is an increase of $42.99 million or 6.9 percent from the trailing 12 months.
Other sources generated $1.446 billion, up $80 million or 5.9 percent from the previous 12 months.

Committee Approves Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients

Welfare recipients would be required to submit to drug testing under legislation approved by a House committee today.
“This is a big victory for the law-abiding citizens of Oklahoma,” said state Rep. John Bennett, R-Sallisaw. “Under current law, welfare benefits can indirectly subsidize an individual’s drug habit, so we must make sure there are penalties for people who take advantage of the system. If this bill is signed into law it will stop recipients from abusing our taxpayer money to fund their drug habits, and it will ensure that needy children still get the food and other support they need and deserve.”
House Bill 2388 would require applicants for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to submit to, and pay for, a drug test. 
Individuals who test positive for drugs would be ineligible for benefits for one year unless they successfully complete a substance abuse program within six months.
The Subcommittee Recommendation for HB 2388 requires recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to submit to, and pay for, a drug test within three months of being approved for benefits.  Persons do not comply with the drug testing requirement will become ineligible for benefits until the requirement is met.  An individual who tests positive will be ineligible for the program for one year or may reapply for the program after six months if able to verify the successful completion of a substance abuse program.  The measure provides that a positive drug test does not affect a dependent child’s eligibility for the program.
The legislation is authored by state Reps. Guy Liebmann (R-Oklahoma City), Bennett, Lisa Billy (R-Purcell), Sean Roberts (R-Hominy), and Steve Vaughan (R-Ponca City).
Should a parent test positive for illegal drugs it would not affect a dependent child’s eligibility for the program.
An estimated 40,634 potential TANF recipients would be impacted by the legislation.
“When a private employee tests positive for drugs, the employer can fire that person,” Bennett said. “Those receiving state services are being paid by the taxpayers of Oklahoma and we should have the right to fire them if they abuse drugs.”
A similar program in Florida saved taxpayers nearly $1 million in the first month of implementation. According to a report issued by the Foundation for Government Accountability, the drug-testing requirement for Florida residents seeking state aid resulted in denial of taxpayer-funded assistance to 9.6 percent of applicants, saving $923,000 in the first month of the law’s implementation.
“In Florida, they were seeing $5.71 in savings generated for every $1 spent to administer the drug-testing program,” Bennett said. “I know that my constituents strongly support this common-sense measure, and I am pleased to see it receive committee support this year.”
House Bill 2388 passed out of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Human Services. It will next be heard in the full House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

Senate committee advances Caylee’s Law

The state Senate today approved legislation requiring parents or guardians to report that a child has gone missing within a 48-hour period. Authored by Sen. Ralph Shortey, “Caylee’s Law” was motivated by the 2011 trial of Casey Anthony, who was convicted of lying to police regarding the disappearance of her daughter.
Senate Bill 1721 would create a felony for failing to report a child’s disappearance to law enforcement.  The bill states that a parent or guardian of anyone 15 years or younger would have to report the missing person within 48 hours or face a felony punishable of up to 10 years in state prison. The bill also includes those who fail to report the death of a person 15 or younger as well as impeding an investigation in the death or disappearance of such a child.
“The Casey Anthony case created a nationwide groundswell of support for stronger penalties for lying to police about missing children,” said Shortey, R-Oklahoma. “People all over the country knew that child deserved better, and that the punishment didn’t fit the crime. My hope is that we can prevent similar injustices from occurring in Oklahoma.”
Shortey said the state currently has few statutes relating to failure to report a missing child.
“The intent of the measure is to close a loophole that may allow a parent or guardian to cover up a crime,” Shortey said. “If parents have harmed their child in some way, the District Attorney would have a way to go after them under this bill. Right now, we don’t have that.”
Rep. Joe Dorman, co-author of the measure, said the bill would implement an important safeguard for children.
“Given the outcry from the public this summer, there is obviously a need to make sure we address this issue,” said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. “This legislation is a responsible solution to make sure the safety of our children is of the utmost importance not only to our families but to law enforcement as well.”
Senate Bill 1721 now advances to the full Senate for consideration.

Committee clears measure to fight meth manufacturers

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved a measure that would arm law enforcement officials with additional tools to fight meth manufacturers while protecting citizens’ access to the medicines they need.
Senate Bill 1634, authored by Sen. Rick Brinkley, would limit over-the-counter purchases of pseudoephedrine, without making the substance available by prescription only. Under Brinkley’s proposal, pseudoephedrine purchases would be limited to 3.6 grams in a single day, and 7.2 grams per month - the recommended therapeutic dosage.
“I disagree with members of the Legislature who favor a bill to make pseudoephedrine available by prescription only, but I think we all agree we have to do something to fight the meth problem in this state,” said Brinkley, R-Tulsa. “My proposal is a way to arm law enforcement with resources while allowing law-abiding citizens the ability to get the medicines they need. Under this bill, consumers will still be able to do that without the burden and expense of a doctor’s visit.”
SB 1634 would also allow the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to track pseudoephedrine purchases across state lines. 14,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine were bought in Kansas and Missouri by Oklahomans using their driver’s licenses, according to the agency. This tool would allow law enforcement to track where those purchases are being made and accurately target potential meth labs, Brinkley said.
Brinkley noted that if pseudoephedrine were to be made available by prescription only, it would result in an estimated $28 million increase in costs for insurance providers.
“That $28 million increase would be passed on to small business and consumers,” Brinkley said. “So they would not only be forced to go to the trouble of going to a doctor, but they would also be forced to pay higher insurance rates for a medication that has been available over the counter for 36 years.”
Senate Bill 1634 now advances to the full Senate for consideration.

Joint Committee on Federal Health Care Law delivers final report

The Joint Committee on Federal Health Care Law delivered its final report to legislative leadership today after spending the legislative interim studying the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the effect it will have on Oklahoma.
“Our committee did a lot of tough work digging into the Oklahoma-specific implications of this law. Whether we like it or not, this flawed federal law is going to have a very real impact on Oklahoma’s health care system,” said Sen. Gary Stanislawski, a Tulsa Republican and co-chairman of the committee. “While we didn’t like everything we found, we were encouraged that we do have options as a state to head off some of this law’s harmful mandates so we can keep as much of our health care system as possible under the market’s control.”
“The only true way to overturn this law is through the courts, which Oklahoma and other states are already pursuing, and at the ballot box, where we hope Republicans are victorious in the presidential election in November. Since neither of those options are guarantees, we must be proactive in the event that those outcomes don’t materialize,” said Rep. Glen Mulready, a Tulsa Republican and co-chairman of the committee. “As the elected leaders of this state, we must protect Oklahoma’s best interests rather than burying our heads in the sand. That’s why our committee has worked diligently to find proactive, protective ways for Oklahoma to address this law.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, and House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, formed the Joint Committee on Federal Health Care Law near the conclusion of the 2011 legislative session. Beginning in September, the committee held five public meetings and received testimony from dozens of experts from the public and private sectors. The report includes a synopsis of information presented at those meetings and resulting recommendations from the committee.
“We hope our report proves useful to the Legislature and that our colleagues give these issues the careful attention our committee did,” Mulready said.
The committee has established a clearinghouse website,, for convenient public access to video and audio recorded committee meetings as well as an electronic copy of the final committee report.
Stanislawski added: “I would like to commend my fellow committee members for taking on a complex topic and working toward solutions that are in Oklahoma’s best interest. We brought the public and private sectors together to develop fact-based options for Oklahoma to consider as we tackle this new federal law.”
The committee’s final report (attached) recommends that Oklahoma: Continue to fight the federal health care law in court; better educate the public about ways to improve their health; prepare for a dramatic expansion of Medicaid eligibility due to PPACA; begin developing a market-based state health insurance exchange in order to prevent imposition of a federal exchange in Oklahoma; form a permanent legislative committee to monitor issues related to the federal health care law; and increase medical residency programs in order to address current and future doctor shortages – particularly in rural areas.
Regarding health insurance exchanges, the report recommends Oklahoma begin taking steps to implement a state-based, free market health insurance exchange. The recommended exchange is similar to the one in development by the state of Utah since before PPACA’s existence. Utah’s exchange model was recommended to the committee by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn. The recommended Oklahoma exchange would be housed in Insure Oklahoma, which would be spun off from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and turned into a public trust.
“Beginning development of our own state-based, free market exchange is clearly the best way to stop the federal government from barging into Oklahoma to build a highly-regulated, anti-free market federal exchange we don’t want or need. The last thing any state needs is a government health care takeover,” Stanislawski said.
Under PPACA, states must have a framework for an exchange in place by Jan. 1, 2013 or the federal government will begin setting up a federal exchange in the state to be operational by January 2014. Health insurance exchanges are online marketplaces where businesses and consumers can shop for health insurance.
“Working toward a state exchange is the most realistic step Oklahoma can take to prevent an unwanted federal takeover in our health care system and insurance markets,” Mulready said. “This would be an Oklahoma exchange run by Oklahomans the way Oklahomans want it run. It would have no federal hands on it whatsoever. If you’re opposed to the federal health care law, you should be for this state-based exchange because it is the most defensive position we can take to prevent Barack Obama’s team from coming in and imposing their own exchange upon Oklahoma. We know Oklahomans can serve Oklahomans far better than Barack Obama.”

Income tax legislation Clears Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee has approved two measures reforming Oklahoma’s income tax laws. Legislation approved by the committee on Tuesday includes Senate Bill 1623, by Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, and Senate Bill 1571, by Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond.
SB 1623 lowers the state income tax over a two-year period and eliminates most special interest tax preferences. Mazzei said the bill is the result of the Legislature’s Task Force on Comprehensive Tax Reform.
“As these measures move through the legislative process, lawmakers will have ample opportunity for careful consideration and deliberation,” Mazzei said. “Each bill embodies the belief that lowering taxes and enabling Oklahomans to keep more of their hard-earned money while continuing to fund core state functions will result in job creation and greater economic growth for our state.”
Sen. Clark Jolley, Senate Appropriations Chairman, is author of SB 1571, also known as the OCPA/Laffer Plan, to phase out the state income tax.
“The committee vote was a crucial step for all of us who believe eliminating the income tax is the right thing to do for Oklahoma,” Jolley said. “Tuesday’s committee action means meaningful dialogue and debate can continue as we work to create greater prosperity for our citizens.”
• Lowers the personal income tax rate from 5.25% to 4.75% over two years
• Maintains revenue neutrality by eliminating most special interest tax preference items
• Eliminates the personal exemption for single filers making more than $30,000 and joint filers making $50,000 or more
• Reduces the corporate income tax rate from 6% to 5.5%
• Eliminates the franchise tax and allows the business activity tax to expire
• Maintains revenue neutrality by eliminating corporate tax credit items
• Establishes a trigger to lower the income tax rate to 4.5% upon 4% revenue growth.
• FY2013 revenue increase of $3,344,000 (Oklahoma Tax Commission est.)
• FY2014 revenue decrease of $2,668,000 (Oklahoma Tax Commission est.)
• FY2015 revenue decrease of $39,000 (Oklahoma Tax Commission est.)

• First year decrease from 5.25% to 2.25%
• Yearly reductions of .25 until income tax eliminated in 2022
• Eliminates all income tax credits, deductions, exemptions and exclusions for individual income tax filers beginning with tax year 2013
• No tax imposed on single filers with taxable income of $8,700 or less and for married filers with taxable income of $15,000 or less
• Addresses dedicated funding for TRS, ROADS, OHLAP and Ad Valorem Reimbursement from all major tax revenues
• FY2013 revenue decrease of $260 million (Oklahoma Tax Commission est.)
• FY2014 revenue decrease of $779 million (Oklahoma Tax Commission est.)
• FY2015 revenue decrease of $1,118 billion (Oklahoma Tax Commission est.)

Both measures now move to the full Senate for further consideration.

Committee Votes to ‘Give Teeth’ to School District Transparency

Legislation approved by the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Education would “give teeth” to the School District Transparency Act, according to the bill’s author.
On June 6th, 2010 Senate Bill 1633, otherwise known as the "School District Transparency Act" was signed into law. This law, effective November 1, 2010, requires that the Oklahoma State Department of Education make available certain information on its website as pertaining to Oklahoma Public School Districts’ expenditures, cost descriptions, amounts of funds spent, types of transactions, copies of credit card statements, and current per-pupil expenditure figures. The database does not include voluntary payroll deductions for employees to receiving parties.
Under House Bill 2644, by state Rep. David Brumbaugh, school districts and the Oklahoma Board of Education would lose funding if they fail to comply with the School District Transparency Act.
The legislation authorizes the Office of State Finance to withhold administrative and support funds from the Oklahoma Board of Education if it does not include data on its website required by the School District Transparency Act. The withholding would be 1 percent of total appropriations for administrative and support functions and would increase by 1 percent for each subsequent month of noncompliance. If noncompliance continued after five months, 8 percent would be withheld.
“This legislation creates a penalty for failure to comply with state law,” said Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow). “The Oklahoma Board of Education has continually failed to put the required data on their website. My legislation gives teeth to the School District Transparency Act and would strongly press them to do so. Taxpayers have a right to know where their tax dollars are being spent and at the minimum, we in the Legislature need to have financial data to make decisions.”
The legislation also increases the penalty for school districts not adhering to the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System. After five months of failing to adhere, the school district would have its state aid payment decreased by 8 percent for each month of noncompliance.
“The legislation gives school districts a lot of leeway so they are not punished for missing a deadline, but instead penalizes those who continually fail to comply with state law,” Brumbaugh said. “We also set a fairly low percentage, to ensure that the penalty was not too severe. I think school districts will choose to comply.”
House Bill 2644 now proceeds to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee for consideration.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

House coalition’s income tax phase-out bill passes first legislative hurdle

Legislation to responsibly phase out Oklahoma’s personal income tax over 10 years and spark long-term economic and job growth in the state cleared its first major hurdle this week.
House Bill 3038, which is authored by a coalition of lawmakers making up nearly a fourth of the entire state House of Representatives, was approved Monday in a bipartisan vote of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation.
The measure would repeal Oklahoma’s progressive personal income tax without necessitating increases in other tax rates or cuts in funding to core government services.
“Our goal is to make Oklahoma the best state in the nation for business and job growth,” said state Rep. Leslie Osborn, a Mustang Republican who is one of 23 primary authors of HB 3038. “We can achieve this goal by allowing each and every Oklahoman the ability to keep more of the fruits of their labor, which gives them greater incentive to pursue prosperity for themselves and their family.”
HB 3038 would phase out the state personal income tax through a process of simplifying the tax code, making modest reductions in wasteful, inefficient and non-essential state spending at the outset of the phase-out process, and utilizing growth revenue from other sources as Oklahoma’s private sector grows in response to the state’s dramatically improved tax climate.
Were Oklahoma to eliminate its personal income tax without raising or expanding any other tax rates, the state would have the lowest overall tax burden in the continental United States.
“We want to place Oklahoma on a course of sustained, robust prosperity and job growth that will bear real fruit in the short term and continue well into the future for our kids and grandkids,” said state Rep. Josh Cockroft, a Tecumseh Republican who is another principal author of HB 3038. “Even though many of the policy reforms in Oklahoma over the last decade have put us on better economic footing, we’re not content to just be better than some other states. We have the potential to be the best state in America for business and jobs, and we need to take that transformational step.”
Supporters of HB 3038 maintain that lower tax rates have historically proven to have a positive impact on work, output and employment. The result has been higher levels of economic growth, job creation and state revenue growth, on average, in low-tax states.
“We have the opportunity to make Oklahoma a magnet for business creation, relocation and expansion,” said state Rep. Elise Hall, an Oklahoma City Republican and sponsor of HB 3038. “Experience from tax cuts at the national level, in other states, and even here in Oklahoma has shown that lower tax burdens lead to increased prosperity and greater individual economic freedom.”
As a Feb 7 editorial in the Wall Street Journal pointed out, a state’s tax burden “is a major signal about how a state treats business, investment and risk-taking.”
The editorial went on to state, in reference to efforts to repeal personal income taxes in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, that, “The tax competition in America’s heartland is an encouraging sign that at least some U.S. politicians understand that they can’t take prosperity for granted. It must be nurtured with good policy, as they compete for jobs and investment with other states and the rest of the world.”