Senate Session Update – week 5


Week No. 5 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

WIND

  • The Senate Pro Tem and House Speaker are the authors of two significant reform bills dealing with the wind industry
    • SB 593
      • fixes problems of undeveloped private air strips that had been used to deter wind development or construction.
      • Protects property rights, puts Oklahoma in line with the other 49 states in regards to private airstrips, and allows FAA to make the determination of setbacks to keep the area safe for air travel.
    • HB 2298
      • Sunsets the eligibility for the Zero Emission tax credit to July 1, 2017.
        • Since the zero emission tax credit was established, use of the credit grew from $3,698,962 in 2010 to $113,236,509 in 2014.
        • While the eligibility for the credit will close in 2021, the state cannot afford to keep the program open for so long.
        • Bill follows recommendations of the Incentive Evaluation Commission to wind down the tax credit.
  • These bills are a good compromise for the state of Oklahoma and the wind industry. It’s an example of the House and Senate, working with stakeholders, finding a resolution to a complicated issue
  • These measures provide certainty to the wind industry and reliability to the state budget in years ahead
    • Some estimates indicate HB 2298 will save the state $300-$500 million in future costs

 


TEACHER PAY

  • Oklahoma House this week passed a teacher pay-raise; one important detail remains: how to fund it
    • House yet indicated the revenue stream to pay for the plan
  • The Senate is working on ideas for a teacher pay-raise bill as well
    • Want to find a stable, long-term source of revenue to fund this important issue
    • We don’t want to offer false hope in the strong likelihood that the Legislature can’t find the money to implement pay-raises next year
  • Senate will continue to work with House on the best plan possible

BUDGET

  • The state budget is always a focus for Senate Republicans – work started on this budget last fall
  • This week, Senate Republicans held the first of what will be a regular series of Caucus meetings to discuss the budget in-depth – members will get a clear picture of all state revenues, where they come from and on what they are spent
  • We all know it will be a challenging budget year – we’re working constantly with the House and Governor’s Office to reach a budget deal that will mitigate the impact of likely agency cuts
  • The positive news from the State Treasurer this week is that Gross Receipts to the Treasury in February were slightly higher than those in the same month of last year.
    • That marks the second month of positive growth following 20 months of contraction
    • All that is to say the numbers show a marginally improving Oklahoma economy
  • As we put together the budget, Senate Republicans are focused on changes to the budget that provide more reliability and stability in the long-term so that our state will be on better financial ground as the economy continues to improve.

TRANSPORTATION

  • A brief summation of the recent progress made by Republican leadership.
    • For 20 years (1985 – 2005) the ODOT budget was stagnant; regardless of the circumstances, the agency received approximately $200 million
    • Oklahoma’s roads and bridges – and our economy – paid the price; we were among the “leaders” in numbers of structurally deficient bridges (approximately 1,200)
    • Republicans fixed the problem, making transportation funding a priority, and have since injected nearly $3 billion into our state’s transportation infrastructure ($2 billion for state roads; $1 billion for county roads)
    • Had our roads been properly maintained under Democratic leadership, imagine what that money could have been used for instead (education, mental health, child welfare, corrections)
  • Transportation infrastructure is important for economic and public safety reasons: two important areas of concerns for Republicans
  • Senate Republicans are committed to maintaining that progress and building upon the improvements made in the past decade so that Oklahoma have some of the best, well-maintained roads and bridges.
Share Button

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

13 + 4 =