Senate Session update ~ week 10


Week No. 10 of 56th Legislature

Total Senate Bills and SJRs introduced in 2017: 877

Total reported from committees: 412

Total reported out of the Senate: 347

House Bills and HJRs on Senate General Order (as of 4/13/17): 208

WIND TAX CREDITS

The zero-emissions tax credit did what it was supposed to do—help the wind industry get off the ground in Oklahoma.

 Our state ranks third in the nation in terms of wind power and will likely remain among the leaders in wind power for the foreseeable future.

 The state is facing extraordinary budget challenges, and we can no longer afford the zero-emissions tax credit.

 This measure provides certainty to the wind industry and stability in the long-term for the state budget.

 The savings from this bill will help us return our state to solid financial footing so that we can invest more in education, public safety and other priorities.

 Bill approved by Senate – headed to the governor for her signature (she called for early sunset of tax credit in budget proposal)

BUDGET

Talk of new revenue – this week the Senate approved the sunset of the wind tax credit

o This moves will free up millions of dollars in future budgets that can be put toward core services like education, public safety and other priorities

 BUDGET REFORMS:

o Senate Appropriations today approved HB 2311 (Schulz), which creates the Agency Performance and Accountability Commission

the commission will conduct independent comprehensive performance audits of the spending of government agencies.

Lawmakers’ job, during “good” budget years and “bad” budget years to ensure Oklahomans’ tax dollars are used wisely and efficiently.

o SENATE KEEPS AEROSPACE ENGINEER TAX CREDIT

Senate Approps approved HB 1839 (David), example of a tax credit working to help industry create jobs and state to diversify economy.

 Work is ongoing on the FY18 budget, despite the criticism you may hear

 The budget process this session is advancing on pace, just like it has in recent years

 

 March General Revenue Fund receipts missed official estimates by 9 percent

o Another indicator of the tough budget year we face

o All options are on the table as we craft an FY18 budget keeping in mind that tax increases have to start in the House and get 75 percent approval in both chambers.

 It will take a combination of actions to help us address the $875 million shortfall for FY18

 However, before we raise taxes, we must first exhaust all options to find revenue including:

o Tax Credit reform

o Apportionment reform

o Agency efficiencies

 Senate Republicans are working hard on the budget, and we’re working to minimize the effect of likely budget cuts on core services such as education, public safety, health care and transportation.

EDUCATION

Teacher Pay Raise:

o The Senate Appropriations Committee approved HB 1114 (Smalley), the House plan for a teacher pay raise

o Senate Republicans hope by the end of the session to approve a framework for a teacher pay raise

We have to fill in the $875 million shortfall before we can add new expenses

o At this point, the Legislature hasn’t yet identified or gained consensus on how to fund for teacher pay raise

o Moving the bill forward to keep discussions ongoing during the Legislature.

 Expanding successful Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship

o Senate Appropriations approved HB 1459 (Griffin), which allows students adopted while in the permanent custody of DHS to participate in the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Program.

 Senate Appropriations approved HB 1578 (Stanislawski) which creates the School Finance Review Commission

o Commission is a way for lawmakers to collect real data to help make informed decisions and comparisons on issues like teacher compensation, benefits and other school finance issues.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION REFORMS

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed workers’ compensation reform bills this week (HB 1462 & HB 2242)

 For years, Oklahoma’s adversarial workers’ comp system was an inhibitor to job creation

 In 2013, the Legislature passed workers’ comp reforms (SB1062) which took Oklahoma from an adversarial, court-based system to an administrative system.

 Those reforms have lowered costs for business, while leading to faster resolutions for injured workers

 Since these reforms took effect, total premiums in Oklahoma have dropped more than $168 million.

o These savings allow employers to invest in their employees and create jobs.

 Legal attacks have been launched to whittle away at these successful reforms

 The reforms working their way this year through the Legislature are aimed at protecting and building upon the successful gains made under the new administrative workers’ comp system.

 

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