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Standing by my word Featured

Written by  Tuesday, 13 February 2018 10:34
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By Rep. Rick West

 

The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted on yet another revenue package on Feb. 12. House Bill 1033XX included increases in motor fuel taxes, tobacco taxes and the gross production tax paid by oil and gas. The legislation would’ve needed 76 votes to move over to the Senate. The final vote was 63 to 35.

 

House leadership kept the vote board open for nearly 7 hours, but the tally hardly budged after the first few minutes. Around 9:30 p.m., members of the Step Up Oklahoma coalition joined a few members of House leadership to hold a press conference, pressuring lawmakers to change their votes. Still, it never moved past 63 to 35.

 

I voted “no” on House Bill 1033XX. Tax hikes on cigarettes, little cigars and the like would kill our convenience store owners. Smokers would only have to drive 5 miles across the border to avoid that addition $1.50 tax per pack.

 

Fuel tax increases of 6 cents per gallon would make life more expensive for all of us – not just people driving cars. An increase in gasoline and diesel means transportation costs would increase for industries like grocery and clothing suppliers. I’m certain those businesses would cover those added business expenses by increasing the prices of their products.

 

The Step Up package included a $5,000 teacher pay raise – this is something I support entirely. But I don’t think a raise is all that exciting when teachers themselves are asked to foot the bill for their pay increase. I want our educators to receive fair compensation. The fact is, there are other options out there that allow fair compensation without increasing taxes on everyday Oklahomans.

 

House leadership said Monday night that this bill was the last revenue bill the House of Representatives would take up. My hope is that lawmakers can now focus just as much energy on bills like the one Rep. Tom Gann and I have proposed. Let’s ask the Commissioners of the Land Office to step up and support common education through teacher pay raises and money for community colleges. This is possible, and it’s wise.

 

I’d be remiss if I ended this week’s column without addressing some things I’ve heard circulating around LeFlore County. I’ve been told I need to vote with leadership – no matter what. I don’t think anyone could fully understand what it’s like to cast a vote on legislation unless you’ve sat on the House floor and done so yourself. My “no” votes on these revenue bills aren’t easy. There’s an unbelievable amount of pressure. But the fact remains that I stand by my word. I vowed to uphold the constitution, and I told my constituents I would not raise their taxes. Had I voted with leadership no matter what, I would’ve voted to pass more than one unconstitutional bill in my first year, and they would’ve been in efforts to raise your taxes.

 

I continue to work to improve life inside House District 3. I met with folks from the Department of Wildlife about extending raccoon season, adding silencers and the bear tag issue. My goal as your representative has always been to represent you and fight for your needs.

 

If you have any concerns about legislation or policy issues, please reach out. I’m at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 405-557-7413. Thanks, and God bless.

 

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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