Friday, June 21, 2013

May Data Show Steady Growth in Oklahoma


Oklahoma’s economy continued to exhibit steady growth during May, State Treasurer Ken Miller said today as he released the monthly gross receipts to the treasury report.

For the first time in 18 months, gross production tax collections exceeded the same month of prior year, climbing to $63.89 million in May. That is $790,000 or 1.2 percent above May of last year. Starting almost two years ago, gross production collections began to drop, hitting a trough in August 2012. Since then, collections have trended upwards.

Total collections for the month of $883.8 million reflected growth of 2.9 percent over May of last year. That compares to an average growth rate of 2.3 percent during the past 12 months.

Twelve-month collections now total $11.247 billion and are only about $36 million below Oklahoma’s peak 12-month collections of $11.283 billion set in December 2008.

“Oklahoma’s economy continues to show improvement,” Miller said. “The increase in gross production collections is most encouraging. Crossing the monthly collections threshold this month is heartening as we have been observing general growth during the past several months.”

Income tax and sales tax collections rose during the month, up by 4.6 percent and 3.8 percent respectively from May of last year. Motor vehicle collections were below prior year collections by 5.2 percent.

Other indicators

The state’s unemployment rate continues to reflect the strength of the Oklahoma economy, Miller said. Oklahoma’s 4.9 percent April unemployment rate compares to a national rate of 7.5 percent.

April unemployment in the Oklahoma City metro was set at 4.1 percent, down from 4.7 percent in March. It is the lowest jobless rate out of the nation’s 49 largest metropolitan areas, a distinction held for the past 13 months.

The Business Conditions Index for Oklahoma remained above growth neutral for May, dipping slightly to 55.6 from April’s 59.8. The survey shows average hourly wage growth of 6.2 percent, much higher than both the U.S. and regional averages. The results indicate positive growth will continue for the next three to six months.

May collections

The revenue report for May shows gross collections at $883.8 million, up $24.91 million or 2.9 percent from May 2012.

Gross income tax collections, a combination of personal and corporate income taxes, generated $280.88 million, an increase of $12.39 million or 4.6 percent from the previous May.

Personal income tax collections for the month are $272.31 million, up $14.15 million or 5.5 percent from the prior year. Corporate collections are $8.57 million, down by $1.76 million or 17 percent.

Sales tax collections, including remittances on behalf of cities and counties, total $348.35 million in May. That is $12.81 million or 3.8 percent above May 2012.

Gross production taxes on oil and natural gas generated $63.89 million in May, an increase of $790,000 million or 1.28 percent from last May. Compared to April reports, gross production collections are up by $6.75 million or 11.8 percent.

Motor vehicle taxes produced $59.04 million, down by $3.21 million or 5.2 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 $131.63 million during the month. That is $2.13 million or 1.6 percent more than last May.

Twelve-month collections
Between June 2012 and May 2013, gross revenue totals $11.247 billion. That is $252.8 million or 2.3 percent higher than collections for the previous 12-month period.

Gross income taxes generated $4.129 billion for the period, reflecting an increase of $275.45 million or 7.1 percent from the prior 12 months.

Personal income tax collections total $3.48 billion, up by $161.65 million or 4.9 percent from the June 2011 to May 2012 period. Corporate collections are $644.37 million for the period, an increase of $113.8 million or 21.4 percent over the previous period.

Sales taxes for the period generated $4.209 billion, an increase of $210.24 million or 5.3 percent from the prior 12-months.

Oil and gas gross production tax collections brought in $706.49 million during the 12 months, down by $233.46 million or 24.8 percent from the previous period.

Motor vehicle collections total $684.71 million for the period. This is a decrease of $4.08 million or 0.6 percent from the trailing 12 months.

Other sources generated $1.518 billion, up $4.65 million or 0.3 percent from the previous 12 months

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Just a Thought


Age is a quantitative scale not a qualitative measure of a person. At 20 we are told "you are too young to do these things" then at 30 we are told "you're too old to do these things". So, according to the rules of men, we are only allowed to "live" for 8 or 9 years? That is not what life is meant to be. That is not what God has said- that is what man has tried to teach us.

The rules of mean are made to control people not liberate us. The rules of society are mostly built on prejudice and fear rather than on wisdom and love. Clearly, I am not speaking about incarcerating a thief or murderer or rapist, I am talking about the everyday rules that people have made to tell us do not touch, stay within a certain age range of people you see and activities in which you participate.

Rules are made for manipulation like pop fashion and pop- well- anything. Rules of what to wear, what to see, what to do and with whom to see them are meant to take your money and liberty at the same time.

Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—"Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. (Col 2:20-23)

New OK Laws–Criminal History for Candidates


Senate Bill 287 was signed into law. It says that if the candidate has ever been ultimately determined by a court of proper authority to be guilty of a misdemeanor involving embezzlement or a felony under the laws of this state or of the United States or who has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to such misdemeanor involving embezzlement or felony or who has been convicted of a crime in another state which would have been a misdemeanor involving embezzlement or a felony under the laws of this state or has entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to such crime or at the time of filing the Declaration of Candidacy is named in an outstanding warrant for arrest for such an offense, in this or any other state, the candidate shall provide the following information on a form prescribed by the Secretary of the State Election Board:
1. The name of the offense;
2. The date of conviction or issuance of the outstanding warrant; and
3. The county and state of conviction or issuance of the outstanding warrant.
The provisions of this subsection shall not apply to an offense for which the candidate has received a pardon.

Keep in mind state law prohibits a person from filing for office for 15 years after such a conviction.

Oklahomans to enjoy ‘Black Friday’ sales and lower prices



Beginning November 1st, Oklahoma consumers will enjoy legal "Black Friday" and other low-price sales for the first time since the 1940s. Senate Bill 550, by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Tom Newell, R-Seminole, has been signed by Gov. Mary Fallin after passing the Senate, 29-16, and the House, 65-15 in the closing days of the 2013 session.

Under previous law, which was originally enacted in 1941, retailers were generally required to sell products for at least six percent more than they paid for it, at all times on all products. A December 2011 opinion from the Oklahoma Attorney General confirmed that state law barred all “Black Friday” and other low-price sales, even if they were only temporary. Many retailers who may not have been fully complying with the law shut down their "Black Friday" and other low-price sales until Oklahoma's laws were modernized. It is believed that only two states had a law so restrictive – Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

The previous law put Oklahoma communities at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states where retailers can legally offer significant bargains. By forcing Oklahomans to leave the state to shop, consumers, retailers, and core government services were all negatively impacted.

SB 550 allows Oklahoma retailers to sell general merchandise products at any price below their cost up to 15 days in a row on a specific product, up to 10 times a year. Groceries, drugs, gas, and lumber will still be subject to the law as before, but the pricing of all other products will fall under the provisions of SB 550.

"I have never believed that Oklahomans should pay higher retail prices only because the government says they should. Under the provisions of SB 550, the consumer will enjoy low prices on the products they expect when they expect, and that’s the way it should be," Holt said. "The previous law undermined a free market economy and its effects had been detrimental to our citizens. Nevertheless, it's taken 70 years to amend it. For making this happen, I want to thank Governor Mary Fallin, Representative Tom Newell, President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, Senate Business and Commerce Chairman Dan Newberry, the members of the Senate conference committee, our co-authors, and all the members who supported it in the Legislature.”

“Oklahomans will now be able to enjoy the same sales consumers in other states do,” Newell said. “I believe the free market helps businesses and consumers. As such, this law was outdated, and I am glad to have been able to help change it.”
SB 550 will take effect November 1, 2013, just in time for Oklahomans to enjoy their first true "Black Friday" sales.
Oklahoma Wal-Mart Ad
Out of State Wal-Mart Ad

CUTLINE FOR ADS: Pricing disparities like this will be a thing of the past after the signing of Senate Bill 550. These Walmart circulars, one from Oklahoma and one from Oklahoma’s bordering states, illustrate the higher prices that Oklahoma law required Walmart to charge consumers during its 2012 ‘Black Friday’ sales.

Changes to Child Abuse Law in OK


The Department shall electronically record each referral received by the hotline and establish a secure means of retaining the recordings for ninety days. The recordings shall be confidential and subject to disclosure only in those cases in which criminal charges related to the referral have been filed. If the court orders the disclosure of the referral, the Department shall redact any information identifying the reporting party unless otherwise ordered by the court.
Additionally, the amended law now states that any person with prolonged knowledge of ongoing child abuse or neglect who knowingly and willfully fails to promptly report such knowledge may be reported to local law enforcement for criminal investigation. Upon conviction shall be guilty of a felony. For the purposes of this paragraph, "prolonged knowledge" shall mean knowledge of at least six months of child abuse or neglect.