The week in review: May 12, 2017

From Caldwell and Associates

Budget

Budget writing each legislative session is never an easy process. Whether there is a shortage or a surplus of funds, reaching an agreement on how the money will be spent is always a daunting process. This year the process seems to be a particularly difficult one. Not only is there a massive budget shortfall to fill, the use of one time funds has been exhausted in recent years and just how new revenue is going to be generated is a divisive issue among elected officials.

The general revenue fund came up short by $90.3 million in April, causing some to once again raise questions about the practice of using one-time funds and the need for finding new revenue streams.

A proposal to place a cap on itemized deductions quickly lost steam when lawmakers learned of the ramifications it would have on charitable giving. A new version excluding charitable giving has been proposed.   

The Senate rejected a budget deal that had the House Republicans and Democrats on the same page. Tribal compact language to expand certain types of gaming in the state was the deal breaker for the Senate. Budget negotiations continue with talks of a special session becoming more frequent. House Speaker Charles McCall announced Thursday another budget agreement had been reached in the House.

The full Senate and the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget (JCAB) will work on Friday.

Legislation

A majority of oil and gas producers in the state have come to an agreement over the expansion of horizontal drilling (known as long laterals) to non-shale formations. Currently this type of drilling is limited to shale formations.

Elections

Rep. Steve Kouplen has been elected as the House Minority Leader-elect. He will replace House Minority Leader Scott Inman when he terms out in 2018.

Two special elections were held on May 9. Republican Zack Taylor won the House District 28 seat. The candidates were narrowed in the primary election for the House District 75 seat. Republican Tressa Nunley and Democrat Karen Gaddis will move on to the special general election on July 11.

Sine Die is May 26. 

Legislative Summary

Gov. Mary Fallin signed SB0147. Authored by Sen. Mike Schulz and Rep. Casey Murdock, the bill modifies the Oklahoma Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations Act. It allows municipalities to issue a waiver of the setback requirements for animal feeding operations and extends the waiver to changes in ownership of the property. The bill takes effect Nov. 1, 2017.

The House adopted the Senate amendments to HB1392 and passed the bill by a vote of 90 to 0. Authored by Rep. Dell Kerbs and Sen. Eddie Fields, the bill reauthorizes the Oklahoma Wildlife Diversity Program check-off and creates an Oklahoma Emergency Responders Assistance Program check-off. The next step for the bill is the governor.

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