Whatzup Politics (1466)
OKLAHOMA CITY – The House of Representatives advanced significant tax relief for individuals and businesses Thursday through bills phasing out the corporate income tax over five years and reducing personal income taxes at all income levels.
“Oklahoma needs a pandemic rebound and competitive boost in the race for jobs,” said House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. “It’s time to talk about tax relief in Oklahoma. This tax relief plan makes us more competitive, grows our economy and benefits all Oklahomans.”
House Bill 2041, by McCall, reduces the personal income tax by .25% through a credit. It results in tax reductions for all income levels.
HB 2083, by McCall, gradually phases out the state’s duplicative, outdated corporate income tax, which is currently set at 6%. Over the next five years, a deduction would be used to reduce the effective rate by 20% a year until it phased out in 2026.
“Timing for tax relief is ideal. Oklahoma can afford putting money back in the taxpayers’ pockets after years of strong fiscal management produced record revenues, significant investments in core services, historic reserves and now a more than $1 billion surplus,” said House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston.
The bills, as a package, are designed to grow the economy, recruit new businesses, spur spending after the pandemic and, ultimately, grow state revenues.
“This is responsible, thoughtful tax relief with adequate budgetary protections. Under this approach, Oklahoma will continue enacting strong state budgets containing historic investments because it will be stimulating the economy that funds those budgets. Once fully enacted, Oklahoma will be one of only three states that charges neither a corporate income tax nor a gross receipts tax,” said House Appropriations and Budget Vice Chairman Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow.
Because the bills use credits and deductions to achieve tax relief, they are not subject to the provisions of State Question 640, which requires supermajority legislative votes to raise revenue. The bills could be paused or reversed with simple majority votes in the future if necessary.
Personal income tax
Under HB 2041, the top income tax rate most taxpayers pay would be effectively reduced by .25%, from 5% to 4.75%, through a credit structure. To achieve tax relief for all income levels, various deductions are adjusted and earned income tax credit refundability is restored.
The fiscal impact to the budget next year is $71.1 million and $180.8 million the following fiscal year.
However, stronger state revenues have followed state income tax reductions in the past 25 years. Since 1997, the state top personal income tax rate has been reduced from 7% to 5%, or 28.5%, while state revenue from the tax has grown from $1.7 billion in Fiscal Year 1997 to a projected $3.7 billion in FY 2021 – an increase of 116% unadjusted for inflation and 32% adjusted for inflation.
Short-term state revenue reductions during that time were largely caused by economic events following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 2008 national financial collapse, mid-2010s energy sector contraction and pandemic.
Corporate income tax
Corporate income tax is a volatile revenue stream, typically accounting for less than 4% of the state’s main operating account, the General Revenue Fund. In the grand scheme of an $8 billion appropriated budget and total operating budget of more than $20 billion, the $350 million corporate income tax produces a year on average is insignificant.
Eliminating it over five years by reducing it 20% a year, as proposed in HB 2083, has a fiscal impact of $32.3 million next year and $100 million the following fiscal year.
“The current corporate rate of 6% has little budgetary value and is a black eye for business recruitment, especially against Texas where there is no corporate income tax,” McCall said. “Oklahoma is on the shortlist in the hunt for jobs against other states, but we continue to fail to close the deal. Eliminating the corporate income tax gets us off the short end of the shortlist.”
OKLAHOMA CITY - Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater, secured passage of House Bill 1112 to allow the Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife to set trapping seasons and methods of take for furbearing animals.
Talley said a constituent in Stillwater brought this to his attention last year. The constituent is a falconer who wanted to be able to hunt squirrels year-round.
Currently, legislation is required to make any kind of change to season dates and trapping methods for squirrels, where for most other wildlife, these are laid out in Title 800 rules. This measure would allow the Wildlife Conservation Commission to set season dates and bag limits for furbearing animals, including squirrels, with Title 800 administrative rules language rather than going through the Legislature.
“It makes good sense to give this authority back to the Department of Wildlife, who study animal populations and set hunting seasons and limits to maintain healthy population levels,” Talley said. “As a recreational hunter myself, I enjoy taking my son and grandson hunting and was happy to work on this legislation for my constituent in House District 33.”
HB1112 passed the House 69-24 on Wednesday and is now available to be considered in the Senate, where it is authored by Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro.
WASHINGTON—Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after once again voting against H.R. 1319, the Biden Bailout package.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this bill is nothing but Democratic wish list items that hinder our economic recovery from the pandemic,” Mullin said.
“From blue state bailouts to funding for a San Francisco subway, only 9 percent of the $1.9 trillion will actually go to COVID relief and 45 percent isn’t even going to be used this year. That is unacceptable and reckless. With $1 trillion from previously enacted relief bills still unspent, we should be focusing on getting targeted relief to those who need it most and getting our economy fully reopened.”
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill allowing boards of education to adopt policies authorizing school personnel to carry firearms on school campuses passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives Tuesday evening.
House Bill 2588, sponsored by Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, would authorize the carrying of a handgun onto school property by school personnel if the person possesses a valid handgun license and meets other requirements authorized by the board of education of the district.
“Sadly, gun violence in schools has become a very real concern for many across America,” said Roberts. “For the protection of our students and school staff, our boards of education must be given the ability to set policies that are proper for their school districts. This bill doesn’t mandate policies across the state, rather it provides for local control in regards to this very important public safety issue.”
HB 2588 passed by a vote of 79-19 and is now eligible to be heard by the Senate.
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after voting against H.R. 842, the PRO Union Bosses Act.
“The PRO Union Bosses Act is a threat to workers, employers, and our economy” said Mullin. “This legislation will crush job opportunities and take away workers’ rights, all while lining the pockets of union bosses. Right-to-work laws protect American workers by ensuring they can have a job without being forced to join a union or pay union dues, and this legislation would throw out those laws in 27 states, including Oklahoma. This is yet another handout to special interests from Speaker Pelosi that taxpayers are forced to pay for.”
By State Rep. Rick West
We ran bills through the House this past week just like we were running a bunch of cattle through the sale barn. Things flew pretty fast and furious on the House floor as we voted on one bill after another – an average of about 60 bills a day. This week should be more of the same.
A wise friend told me once not to fall in love with my bills. He’s right. I can be passionate about an issue and work my hardest to get something passed, but at the end of the day, not everyone is going to see things my way.
The LeFlore County Livestock Show was a few weeks ago. The premium sale was last Friday night. I appreciate all the buyers and businesses who helped the kids that made the sale. The sale likely will bring about $100,000 to support these young people. More important than money is the life lessons these kids learn that will make them productive citizens when they are adults. I’m proud of every one of them. Keep up the hard work and keep trying. This sale is one of the best things in our area. It teaches hard work, ethics and character, and all of these kids demonstrate that. The FFA instructors and 4H leaders have a great relationship with their kids, and this program wouldn’t be possible without them. Thanks to the LeFlore County Cattleman’s Association and the Community State bank for cooking the hamburgers. A 4H group of homeschoolers served the meal.
At the Capitol, I had a page this past week. Garrett Huckaby is a senior at Heavener High School. His parents are Andrea Vaughn and Stephen Huckaby. Garrett said his plan after high school is to go to nursing school and then work with trauma patients. His list of community service projects includes painting and welding pipe fences and cleaning up our area highways. His favorite hobbies include fishing and hunting. He’s also a bodybuilder and loves playing basketball. He said he also works a lot. At school, he’s on the baseball and the fishing teams.
What I was most touched by, though, was Garrett’s response to the question, “What is your proudest lifetime personal accomplishment and/or life goal?” He said, “Growing up making my parents proud of who I am with the intentions of making it through nursing and being very successful. Accepting Christ into my life and being the best person I can.”
It was great to have Garrett at the Capitol this week. Pages get to see our work on the floor, help run errands for lawmakers and help out in our offices. They also get to take part in a mock legislative session. I hope Garrett learned a little more about state government this week, and I wish him the best in his future.
This coming week, I’ll have a group of eighth-graders from Heavener visit the Capitol. That’s always a highlight to get to visit with a group of future leaders and show them around the People’s House.
I met recently with Department of Public Safety officials in Poteau to get an update on their efforts to address the backlog of people wanting to get their driver’s or commercial driver’s licenses. DPS has two issues – COVID and technology challenges as they try to transition to the REAL ID system. We ran some legislation in the House recently that will help with this issue, and the governor also issued an executive order that waives some restrictions on local tag agents and that will allow third parties to administer driver’s license examinations. I hope we see some REAL RELIEF soon.
Remember to listen to me on KPRV Radio each Thursday morning during the legislative session. And if I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at .
- Rick West represents District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of LeFlore County.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Nicole Miller, R-Edmond, secured passage of legislation that would prohibit a daycare center employee with a substantiated finding of shocking and heinous child abuse from being hired by another daycare center.
Miller said House Bill 1797 closes a loophole in current statute that was brought to her attention by a constituent whose child was attending a daycare facility when an incident occurred. The employee in question was previously involved in an incident at another facility and was still legally allowed to work at a daycare because the employee had not yet been added to the Restricted Registry maintained by the Dept. of Human Services.
“The incident surrounding this bill was tragic and is something no child or their family should have to go through,” Miller said. “As a mother myself, I’m thankful to the mother who brought forward the oversight in this statute and to my colleagues in the House for their support of this bill, which I hope will help keep our children safe.”
The measure would also require the facility to notify parents or guardians within one day of the substantiated finding.
Miller said she worked closely with the Dept. Human Services on the legislation, whose guidance was instrumental.
Joe Dorman, CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, said the bill helps protect Oklahoma’s children.
“The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is grateful to Representative Miller for writing this bill,” Joe Dorman, the organization’s CEO said. “This will provide another layer of protection for our children by keeping potential child abusers out of childcare facilities. OICA appreciates the full House of Representatives for their overwhelming support for the measure, and we look forward to speedy Senate passage as we continue to support the bill.”
HB1797 passed the House 96-1 and now proceeds to the Senate, where it is authored by Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation to help small businesses and support economic development throughout Oklahoma has passed the Oklahoma House today with a vote of 69 to 21.
House Bill 2726, authored by Rep. Ajay Pittman, D-OKC, introduces language into the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Control Act that would allow Oklahoma small businesses to offer bottle service to their customers.
“This bill was a request bill from many small businesses in my district and throughout Oklahoma City,” Pittman said. “What we are doing is creating parity with what other states offer and what consumers want. Economic Development was at the top of my list of priorities when we started this journey, now we can see how we can restore our business communities from multiple things that challenge their success.”
The legislation does not increase or encourage alcohol consumption nor does it remove any safeguards put in place to curb alcohol-related incidents. This measure will also promote additional safety precautions that prevent hospitality staffers from making additional trips to serve patrons.
“This legislation isn’t about alcohol as much as it is about helping small businesses in House District 99 and throughout Oklahoma,” said Pittman. “This legislation will add a second layer of safety for families or patrons that gather in support of our professional sports teams and other celebrations.”
HB2726 is now eligible to be heard in the Oklahoma Senate.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation to protect religious freedom and the constitutional right to worship.
Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang, presented House Bill 2648, also known as the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act, which dictates that anything closing places of worship would be considered a substantial burden on people’s freedom of religion.
“People came to this continent seeking religious freedom and to escape a tyrannical government, and our country’s founders had the wisdom to specifically outline the freedom to worship in one of our founding documents,” Hill said. “My faith, like many Oklahomans, is at the core of who I am, and this bill further protects our God-given right to worship.”
House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, is a co-author of the bill.
"This country was founded by individuals seeking freedom to worship in the manner they so choose without persecution," Echols said. "I can think of nothing more patriotic than protecting those rights for future generations."
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
HB2648 passed the House 80-18 and is now available to be considered by the Senate, where it is authored by Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill designed to help homeless youth gain access to housing, medical care, education and other services passed the House today with a vote of 82-6.
House Bill 1739, by Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, creates the Connecting Futures Act, which is designed for youth between the ages of 15 and 18. The measure would direct the state Department of Human Services, working with social service providers, to design a pilot program addressing the needs of minors who are not supported by parents or guardians and who are not in state or tribal custody. The act would not deprive a parent or legal guardian of any parental or legal authority.
“Unfortunately we have a number of young people in our state whose needs are not being met, and they need our help,” Dills said. “This program will help us identify barriers facing these youth so we can find solutions and resources to assist them.”
Dills said the program is aimed at youth who, for whatever reason, don’t fit into the state’s foster care system but who aren’t with their parents. Many of these teens don’t even have access to necessary documents such as their birth certificates or social security numbers, which leaves them unable to secure a driver’s licenses or employment. Too many end up in poverty, in the state’s penal system or worse, she said.
The Connecting Futures Act could change this trajectory and help these young people become successful adults, Dills said.
HB 1739 now advances to the Senate where Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City, is the author.
- Sheila Dills serves House District 69 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of Tulsa County.