The week in review: May 5, 2017
From Caldwell and Associates
There was a lot of finger pointing going on at the Capitol this week. The governor instructed the legislature to buckle down and get a budget passed. Democrats and Republicans accused one another of causing gridlock in the budget process. House Democrats refuse to support an increase in the cigarette tax without an increase in the gross production tax. They reject raising the fuel tax altogether. Republican leadership in the House and Senate do not support increasing the gross production tax.
This dynamic means the revenue raising measure to increase the cigarette tax, fuel tax and place sunset dates on certain oil and gas tax deductions and exemptions did not get a vote. The bill could provide $340.1 million to the state’s $878 million budget hole. Gov. Mary Fallin has vowed to veto any budget proposing deep cuts to state agencies.
In addition to working out the state’s budget issues, the House and Senate spent the week deciding whether to accept the opposite chamber’s amendments to their bills and place the measures for a final vote or reject the amendments and send them to conference committee.
Gov. Fallin set the special election dates for the House District 76 seat left open by the death of Rep. David Brumbaugh and the Senate District 45 seat left open by the resignation of Sen. Kyle Loveless. The special primary is Aug. 8 and the special general election is Nov. 14.
One of the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma’s priority measures, HB1326, was sent to conference committee after the House rejected the Senate’s amendments to the bills. Authored by Rep. Casey Murdock and Sen. Lonnie Paxton, the bill prohibits the operation of drones over private agricultural property and provides exemptions.
A complete list of measures monitored for the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma is available here.