No Tax Cuts
May 25th marks the end of this legislative session. There was not final tax cut but many other bills were passed to law or sent to the governor.
Gov. Mary Fallin said Thursday she will not call a special session to deal with a tax cut. She said Thursday she's disappointed the House and Senate failed to reach a final agreement on what was one of her top priorities for the legislative session but she'll continue to push for a tax cut next year and that lawmakers have "a clean slate" to work on.
President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, issued the following statement after the Governor’s announcement Thursday afternoon, "Governor Fallin deserves a tremendous amount of credit for her dedication, tenacity and leadership on the most important issues facing Oklahoma this legislative session. We have accomplished much together that frankly wouldn't have been possible this year without the Governor leading the way.
“I remain committed to helping the Governor advance a significant income tax reduction that reflects her jobs-focused, conservative leadership. While we have yet to produce a final proposal, we found much common ground between many tax cut bills debated this session. Going forward, Governor Fallin has given us all something to build on-- I'm proud of our efforts and honored to work with her."
Budget Barely Gets By
The Oklahoma House on Thursday narrowly approved a $6.8 billion general appropriations bill to fund state government, just hours after the same bill failed, avoiding the need to return for a special session.
Lawmakers needed to approve the bill by 5 p.m. May 25th, the constitutional deadline for adjournment, or be forced to return for a special session. The measure, which already passed the Senate, now heads to the governor’s desk.
With an ambitious agenda rooted in pro-growth policies and a focus on protecting core functions of government, Senate Republicans refused to shy away from the toughest issues facing Oklahoma. Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said he was proud of the upper chamber’s accomplishments and particularly impressed by the courage and dedication shown time and again by his caucus.
“From day one, Senate Republicans promised to focus on jobs, the economy, and making government smaller, simpler, and smarter. We’ve stuck by our word, and there’s so much we should be proud of,” said Bingman. “When the special interests and their lobbyists flooded the Capitol, fighting desperately to protect tax credits and giveaways that we all knew weren’t in the best interest of Oklahomans, Senate Republicans made the tough choices and passed a bill to get rid of these credits. We wanted to give that hard-earned money back to our taxpayers. And while we remain frustrated by our House colleagues’ refusal to hold a vote on the tax cut agreement they signed off on, we’re still committed to helping the Governor pass a significant reduction.”
Bingman praised the Senate for protecting core government services—education, transportation infrastructure, public safety, and human services.
“We succeeded in protecting the most basic and important things state government does—teaching in the classroom, fixing broken roads, keeping our families safe, and making sure we defend kids who have endured heartbreaking abuse or neglect. Not only did we protect and increase spending for these services, but we’ve passed landmark reforms to move Oklahoma forward. Our citizens are already beginning to see the impact of our positive, forward-looking reforms.”
Noting the broad scope of legislation passed by the Senate in 2012, Bingman added the people of Oklahoma can take pride in the accomplishments of the fifty-third legislature.
“With a landmark energy efficiency bill that will save hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars, historic reforms to criminal justice and human services, and a proven commitment to defending the Second Amendment, Senate Republicans have delivered a session the people of Oklahoma can be proud of, as well.”
Bingman included praise to the Senate Democrats. “I firmly believe this is a body of 48 valuable members that have all added greatly to the process this year. While we have a majority and a minority caucus, both have contributed by offering their life experiences and expertise as a unique perspective and conscious on every issue that we addressed. Our success as a body is a result of diligent work from Democrats and Republicans alike.”
“I cannot thank my colleagues enough for their dedication, tenacity, and leadership on the most important issues facing Oklahoma. I am honored, and deeply humbled, to work side-by-side with individuals of the Senate’s caliber.”
Senate Republican agenda items passed this session include:
Job Creation and Economic Development
· SJR52 – Sends to a vote of the people a constitutional amendment change which would exempt intangible property from taxation. (Passed Senate and House; headed to statewide ballot).
· HCR1031 – Calls for Congressional oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency due to rules and regulations passed by that agency which hinders businesses and makes it more expensive for them to operate. (Approved).
· HB2204 – Requires individuals to register for work on OESC website after applying for unemployment benefits. Claimant has burden of proof when there is a positive drug or alcohol test. 25% penalty for fraud related to overpayment of unemployment benefits. Increases efficiency in the unemployment claim process. (Signed by the Governor).
· SB1246 – Puts a stay on payment of workers’ compensation benefits when a person if going through a workers’ compensation fraud proceeding. (Signed by the Governor).
· SB1959 – Provided supplemental funding for flexible benefits and National Board Certification bonuses. (Signed by the Governor).
· SB1975 – Provided adequate funding for National Board Certification bonuses for FY13. (Signed by the Governor).
· SB1816 – Allows the State Board of Education to sponsor a statewide virtual charter school. (Sent to the Governor).
· SB1056 – Establishes a pilot program at technology center school districts to increase the number of students taking industry certification examinations and obtaining trade-specific industry certifications and licenses. (Signed by the Governor).
Health and Human Services
· HB3133 – Any individual who knowingly provides false information in a deprived child proceeding commits a felony. (Sent to the Governor).
· HB3134 – DHS to eliminate the Field Operations Division and to vertically integrate all program divisions and staff; field operations and programs shall no longer be separated into different divisions. (Sent to the Governor).
· HB3135 – Allows for DHS to release certain information when a child death has occurred. (Sent to the Governor).
· HB3137 – Gives the Governor authority to select the DHS Director, subject to confirmation from the Senate. Creates citizen advisory panels to evaluate core areas of DHS. (Sent to the Governor).
· HJR1092 – Refers to the vote of the people a constitutional amendment which would delete the DHS Commission and allow the department to be administered under the Governor’s purview. (Passed Senate and House; headed to statewide ballot).
· HB3058 – Establishes a rural residency training program to be administered through the OK Healthcare Authority. (Sent to the Governor).
· SB1863 – Allows colleges and universities to utilize courses and experience gained by honorably discharged service members as an exchange for college credit. (Signed by the Governor).
· SB1734 – Allows any peace officer to conduct investigations and make arrests in regard to human trafficking violations. (Signed by the Governor)
· SB1959 – Provided supplemental funding for an additional OHP trooper academy. (Signed by the Governor).
· SB1975 – Provided funding for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which includes block grants for police departments, mental health counseling, and monitoring upon a person’s release from prison. Also annualized supplemental funding for OHP trooper academies. (Signed by the Governor).
· HB2941 – Requires pharmacies to maintain electronic records of non-prescription pseudoephedrine sales. Institutes real-time tracking service in Oklahoma and across state lines. A stop-sale order will be issued if certain conditions are met. (Signed by the Governor).
Reforming Oklahoma Government
· SB1096 – Energy efficiency initiative for all state buildings. Estimated savings over 10 years of $300M to $500M. (Signed by the Governor).
· SB1975 – Budget passed this year kept most agencies at a standstill budget. Major increases were limited to DHS due to the settlement agreement and Dept. of Transportation to restore funding to the 8-year plan. (Signed by the Governor).
· HB3055 – Establishes public policy of Oklahoma that the state will consume no more fresh water in 2060 than is consumed in 2012. (Signed by the Governor).
· SB1975 – Allocates $2M for water monitoring as called for in the Comprehensive Water Plan. (Signed by the Governor).
· HB2262 – Establishes the Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund. Proceeds from the sale of excess state property shall be deposited into the fund. (Signed by the Governor).
Transportation and Infrastructure Improvement
· SB1975 – The General Appropriations bill returns the ROADS Plan to full funding. (Signed by the Governor).
· HB2248 – Raises the cap on the ROADS Fund by $15M for a total of $575M. (Sent to the Governor).
· HB2249 – Raises the apportionment of motor vehicle taxes going to the county road and bridges fund over a 3-year period for a total of $20M. (Sent to the Governor).
Other Bills of Note:
· SB1733 – Open carry with reasonable protections and licensing. (Signed by the Governor).
· SB1386 – Allows Attorney General to pursue suspected cases of Medicaid fraud. (Signed by the Governor).
· HJR1093 –Disapproves judicial and statewide office holder pay-raises. (Signed by the Governor).
· HB3052 – Justice Reinvestment Initiative. (Signed by the Governor).
· HB2204 – Reduces unemployment benefit fraud. (Signed by the Governor).
· HB2381 – Physician must be present when RU486 is administered. (Signed by the Governor).
· HB2561 – Allows for civil action against abortion providers. (Signed by the Governor).
· HB3049 – Unlawful for registered sex offender to live with a minor child who is not in the family. (Signed by the Governor).
· HB3056 – Requires flex benefits to be funded first by the State Department of Education. (Signed by the Governor).