The week in review: Feb. 17, 2017

From Caldwell and Associates

The need to find a permanent solution to Oklahoma’s budget woes became reality this week when the Office of Management and Enterprise Services Director Preston Doerflinger declared a $300 million revenue failure. This is the third revenue failure the state has had since 2010. There have been a total of six revenue failures since 2000.

Beginning in March, state agencies will receive 0.7 percent less in their monthly General Revenue Fund distributions. More information on just how much this will mean to agencies in dollars is available here.

The budget hole the legislature must work to fill this year also grew to $878.2 million after the Board of Equalization met. This is 12.7 percent less to appropriate than was available in 2017. The proposed revenue certification for fiscal year 2018 can be accessed here.

Fallin’s long-term solution to balance Oklahoma’s budget has not been warmly received by the legislature, with many hesitant about revenue-raising measures. Another hurdle for the proposed executive budget is the constitutional requirement that revenue-raising measures receive a three-fourth’s vote in both the House and Senate.

One of the governor’s priority issues this session is one vote away from landing on her desk. HB1845 adopts the Real ID security requirements for Oklahoma’s driver’s licenses and identification cards. The new cards will ensure Oklahomans have access to federal buildings and commercial airlines without a passport. Before the governor can sign the bill into law, it must first pass a floor hearing in the Senate.

Fallin named Secretary of State Mike Hunter as the new attorney general after Scott Pruitt resigned in order to assume the position of administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection agency.

The legislature continued to hear bills in committee and on the floor of each chamber this week as the first deadline approaches. All bills must be reported from committee in the house of origin by March 2.

Legislation Summary

Two measures supported by the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma, HB1537 and SB0075, passed out of committee this week.

HB1537 passed out of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services. Authored by Rep. Jason Dunnington, the bill creates the Water for 2060 Revolving Fund. The funds are to be appropriated and spent on promoting efficient water use by municipalities and residents. It also requires commercial irrigation systems to have water metering features and municipalities using an inclined block rate structure to retain all revenues derived from the sale of water to each user, up to 25,000 gallons per month. The bill can now be considered by the full House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

SB0075 passed out of the Senate Energy Committee. Authored by Sen. Wayne Shaw, the bill expands the scenic river designation on the Illinois River. The next step for the bill is a floor hearing in the Senate.

One measure closely watched by the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma also passed out of the Senate Energy Committee. SB0509, authored by Sen. Eddie Fields, modifies the powers, rights and privileges of districts under the Grand River Dam Authority. The bill now moves to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for approval.

A complete list of measures monitored for the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma is available here.