KGOU

Cigarette Tax, Teacher Pay Raise And Anti-Abortion Bills Highlight Legislative Week

Feb 17, 2017

 

Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb stepped down from the governor’s cabinet due to his opposition to the governor’s tax plan during a busy legislative week that included moves on an abortion bill and several teacher pay raise proposals.

Lamb’s resignation was well received by the 14 legislators who pledged to fight against service sales taxes.

Some of those same legislators also oppose House Bill 1841, which moves for a $1.50 tax increase on cigarettes to go toward Oklahoma health care.

The bill passed the House Appropriations and Budget Committee with a vote of 17-10. The fact that it did not receive a three-fourths majority of the committee vote could be a harbinger for things to come.

“It needs a three-fourths vote on the house floor to be transmitted to the Senate and it seems like the cigarette tax itself, the first test of Governor Mary Fallin’s tax plan, is facing some hurdles,” eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley said in his weekly interview with KGOU.

The House Public Health Committee passed an anti abortion bill this week. House Bill 1441 would make it illegal for women to have an abortion without the consent of the father.

The author of the bill, Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, made national headlines for his statements about women, referring to pregnant women as “hosts” in an interview with The Intercept.

Another item on the agenda is a teacher pay raise. Several bills that propose different ways of raising teacher pay passed subcommittees this week.

Ashley pointed out Sen. David Holt’s approach to the issue. Holt has proposed adding a fixed amount to teachers’ paychecks.

“That’s a little different from some of the other because it doesn’t adjust the minimum teacher salary,” Ashley said.

Ashley said some legislators are wary, however, to pass a teacher pay raise when the state faces an approximately $900 million budget shortfall.

On Tuesday, February 21, the board of equalization will give a report on what the budget looks like, and will provide updated numbers on how much money the state will have for appropriations.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

On Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb’s resignation as small business advocate:

Dick Pryor: Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb resigned as small business advocate because of his opposition to Gov. Fallin’s proposal to impose wide ranging service taxes. Shawn, it should be pointed out, Lt. Gov. Lamb is expected to run for governor in 2018.

Shawn Ashley: ...But during his time as small business advocate, throughout Mary Fallin’s term as governor, and his as lieutenant governor, he has traveled across the state and made an effort to promote small business. But his decision to resign from her Cabinet on Thursday was greeted with support from 14 legislators, who themselves took a pledge to oppose the governor’s efforts to raise the sales tax on services.

On the cigarette tax:

Shawn Ashley: We saw earlier in the week an effort to pass the cigarette tax that Gov. Mary Fallin had proposed again this year run into some opposition. It passed the House Appropriations and Budget Committee by a vote of 17-10, but a number of those voting against the measure were Republicans, some of those who are taking this pledge to oppose her other tax increase efforts. House Speaker Charles McCall pointed out that that wasn’t even three-fourths of the committee. It needs a three-fourths vote on the House floor to be transmitted to the Senate and it seems like the cigarette tax increase itself, the first test of Gov. Mary Fallin’s tax plan, is facing some hurdles.

On Rep. Humphrey’s anti abortion bill:

Jill Biden, the wife of former vice president Joe Biden, tweeted about the bill, which requires that the father of the child be informed and consent from the father be obtained in order for a woman to have an abortion. Part of the problem was what the representative said about women. That he viewed them as hosts of the fetus or the baby. That also brought a rebuke from Sarah Silverman. The bill ultimately passed the House Public Health Committee. The question now is whether it will be heard on the floor.

 

On teacher pay raise bills:

Each of these approaches the teacher pay raise a little differently. Some offer them increases over a period of time, some a flat rate over a period of time. One of the more unique approaches was one of the proposals from Sen. David Holt that says flatly each year, the teacher will receive an additional amount in their pay check. That’s a little different from some of the others because it doesn’t adjust the minimum teacher salary. On Monday, the House Appropriations and Budget Committee is expected, although not yet scheduled, to hear the House plan, which is a 1-2-3 approach, $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 over a total of three years.

 

Dick Pryor: Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb resigned as small business advocate because of his opposition to Gov. Fallin’s proposal to impose wide ranging service taxes. Shawn, it should be pointed out, Lt. Gov. Lamb is expected to run for governor in 2018.

Shawn Ashley: That’s exactly right. And in fact, Scott Inman, the House minority leader, who’s also expected to run for governor had begun to call the governor’s, Gov. Fallin’s, tax overhaul plan the “Fallin-Lamb tax plan,” and I think that may have had a little to do with his decision to step away from this. But during his time as small business advocate, throughout Mary Fallin’s term as governor, and his as lieutenant governor, he has traveled across the state and made an effort to promote small business. But his decision to resign from her Cabinet on Thursday was greeted with support from 14 legislators, who themselves took a pledge to oppose the governor’s efforts to raise the sales tax on services. We saw earlier in the week an effort to pass the cigarette tax that Gov. Mary Fallin had proposed again this year run into some opposition. It passed the House Appropriations and Budget Committee by a vote of 17-10, but a number of those voting against the measure were Republicans, some of those who are taking this pledge to oppose her other tax increase efforts. House Speaker Charles McCall pointed out that that wasn’t even 3/4 of the committee. It needs a 3/4 vote on the House floor to be transmitted to the Senate and it seems like the cigarette tax increase itself, the first test of Gov. Mary Fallin’s tax plan, is facing some hurdles.

Pryor: The House Public Health Committee passed a new anti abortion bill, pro life, sponsored by Republican representative, Justin Humphrey of Lane, Oklahoma. It’s received national attention.

Ashley: That’s right. When it was first considered a couple of weeks ago, the bill was laid over and its national interest really began to grow at that point. Jill Biden, the wife of former vice president Joe Biden, tweeted about the bill, which requires that the father of the child be informed and consent from the father be obtained in order for a woman to have an abortion. Part of the problem was what the representative said about women. That he viewed them as hosts of the fetus or the baby. That also brought a rebuke from Sarah Silverman. The bill ultimately passed the House Public Health Committee. The question now is whether it will be heard on the floor.

Pryor: And Rep. Humphrey’s says he’s going to strike title.

Ashley: That’s right. He plans to take title off the bill. That allows him to make some changes to the bill as it moves through the process and before it goes to the governor’s desk for consideration.

Pryor: Several bills to raise teacher pay have passed out of subcommittees, so what happens next?

Ashley: Well, the next step is to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee. That could come as early as Wednesday. Each of these approaches the teacher pay raise a little differently. Some offer them increases over a period of time, some a flat rate over a period of time. One of the more unique approaches was one of the proposals from Sen. David Holt that says flatly each year, the teacher will receive an additional amount in their pay check. That’s a little different from some of the others because it doesn’t adjust the minimum teacher salary. On Monday, the House Appropriations and Budget Committee is expected, although not yet scheduled, to hear the House plan, which is a 1-2-3 approach, $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 over a total of three years.

Pryor: There are plenty of legislators who already say because of the dire state budget situation, that this is not the time for a teacher pay raise.

Ashley: That’s exactly right. The question everybody was asked on the Senate side was about funding. On Tuesday, we will hear from the equalization board on what the budget looks like as they move into the final negotiations. Already we know they have nearly a $900,000,000 shortfall. The question is, does that number get bigger?

Pryor: We’ll be watching that number and the state equalization board. Shawn Ashley, eCapitol news director and the capitol insider, thank you.

Ashley: You’re very welcome.

Capitol Insider is a collaborative news project between KGOU and eCapitol. As a community-supported news organization, KGOU relies on contributions from readers and listeners to fulfill its mission of public service to Oklahoma and beyond. Donate online, or by contacting our Membership department. eCapitol is legislative news and bill tracking service. Online content is available via subscription.