Submitted by Rep. John Bennett
In the final six weeks of the legislative session, House members continue to decide bills on the House floor as well as work on the state budget for the next fiscal year.
Tax credits are an issue garnering much discussion when it comes to the budget.
While we don’t want to take away those credits that are actually generating jobs, higher income and therefore higher tax revenue for our state, we are taking a look at other credits that may not be giving the state a great return on our investment.
I’ve been told that tax credit reform could give us $200 million more to put into next year’s budget, but we want to be judicious and fiscally responsible in our consideration of each item.
One proposal would cap at $25 million a tax rebate for gross production taxes for oil wells operated at financial risk. I’m looking into the pros and cons of this to see if it will actually net the state revenue. I don’t want to hamper oil production at a time the industry is just starting to show signs of a rebound.
There are many other tax credits on the table, and we will take a look at each one.
In the meantime, many bills are still making their way through the legislative process.
Senate Bill 1552, which I co-authored, would result in the revocation of licenses for physicians performing abortions received a do pass recommendation from the House Public Health Committee and has been co-authored by a number of other legislators. It deserves a vote on the House floor. We must protect the life of the unborn, and this is just one more bill that would help us ensure the preservation of life.
Several other measures were signed last week that deserve a mention.
The governor signed House Bill 3102, which expands the number of hours an adjunct teacher can teach in Oklahoma classrooms.
Adjunct teachers are those who have not gone through the teaching certification process, and therefore are limited to how many hours they can spend teaching students. This bill expands the hours from 90 to 270.
Our goal in Oklahoma is to have a highly qualified, certified teacher in each of our classrooms. Unfortunately, we have a statewide teacher shortage. This measure allows a professional to teach a subject matching their expertise. This gives our school districts more options to better meet the needs of their students, and it allows our business community to play a role in servicing our schools.
Another measure signed into law last week was Senate Bill 1342, which modifies the Taxpayer Transparency Act. The change allows Oklahomans to see all federal funds received by state agencies and track how the monies are used. This helps legislators as well as we draft the state’s budget. As we consider agency needs, we must have an honest picture of all funds received, not just those doled out by the state.
Several of the constitutional carry bills I co-authored are still alive on the Senate side. One is House Bill 3098, which would allow law abiding citizens, who can legally purchase firearms, the right to carry them openly without a license. Over 20 states offer some type of constitutional carry to its citizens. I want Oklahoma to be one. Another is House Joint Resolution 1009. This would send to a vote of the people the decision to approve or reject a proposed amendment to the state constitution that clarifies the types of arms and ammunition and the manner in which citizens may keep and bear them. The bill also specifies that no law shall impose registration or special taxation upon the keeping of arms including the acquisition or transfer.
For more news stories stay tuned to The MIX 105.1 or visit www.kxmx.com