2017 Senate Session Update – Week 6


March 16, 2017

Week No. 6 of 56th Legislature

Total Senate Bills and SJRs introduced in 2017: 877

Total reported from committees: 412

March 23 deadline for Senate bills to advance to House

VETERANS

The Oklahoma Senate this week passed measures relating to our veterans and military families.

 The Oklahoma Senate – like all Oklahomans – has a great amount of respect and admiration for veterans, service members, and their families

 These measures in a small way, represent our respect for veterans and service members and offer the support and help they deserve when mobilized or deployed.

o SB 227 (Simpson) offers increased protection of service members’ contractual and financial rights by allowing them to cancel certain contracts, like telecommunications contracts and health club memberships, when they are deployed are mobilized.

o SB 233 (Simpson) specifies that hourly employees shall not miss out on the first 240 hours of their pay when called to active service.

o SB 456 (Newhouse) which aims to help curtail fraud in a program that offers a sales tax exemption to 100-percent disabled veterans and their spouses by documenting those who are eligible for the program.

o SB 642 (Sykes) designates a section of Interstate 44 as the LCPL Trevor A. Roberts Memorial Highway to honor Roberts, who was killed while deployed to Iraq in 2007.

o SB 57 (Boggs) allows Oklahoma veterans centers to condition admission to the center unless the veteran served during a time of war.

BUDGET

SENATE PASSES BILL TO ELIMINATE SECOND INCOME TAX CUT TRIGGER (SB 170: Thompson)

o Senate Republicans know the more hard-earned money Oklahomans can keep in their pocket, the more they can save, invest, or spend to spur the state economy.

o Eliminating the trigger is something Senate Republicans have advocated for some time.

o This measure provides more stability in the short-term for the state budget while allowing future Legislatures to lower taxes at an appropriate time

SENATE EXTENDS AEROSPACE ENGINEERS TAX CREDIT

o Senate Republicans advocate for eliminating tax incentives that don’t work or don’t create jobs

o The aerospace engineers tax credit is a program that works extremely well, and the Senate extended the incentive this week (SB 120: David)

o The Incentive Evaluation Commission says this program “has been an effective catalyst for achieving its goal of stronger employment of engineers in the industry.”

o These credits are neither transferable nor refundable and have a limited (5 year) carry-forward, providing adequate protection against significant, unanticipated fiscal impact.

o Overall, the aerospace industry in the state is growing and the number of aerospace engineers employed outperforms other type of engineering jobs.

o The Oklahoma aerospace industry generates over $27 billion in sales annually, contributing over $12.5 billion a year to the state`s economy.

 This week, Senate Republicans again held a special Caucus meeting to discuss the budget in-depth

 The Senate is working closely with the House and Governor’s Office to reach a budget deal that mitigates the impact of likely agency cuts and provides more reliability and stability long-term

Senate Resignation Request

Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz on Thursday called for the immediate resignation of Senator Ralph Shortey. The letter reads: “In light of the criminal charges filed against you today, I respectfully request on behalf of the Oklahoma State Senate your immediate resignation as Senator of District 44.”

 On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate approved a resolution imposing punishment upon Senator Shortey pursuant to provisions of the Oklahoma Constitution. The Pro Tem said: “This is not a presumption of guilt or innocence. The Oklahoma Senate has full faith that the judicial system will play out appropriately and bring this matter to a lawful conclusion. This resolution reserves the right of the Oklahoma Senate to pursue further action if more facts come to light. It would be inappropriate to comment any further due to the pending investigation.”

 

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