Top Business Stories: Tax Holiday, Urgent Care Clinics, And The Push For "Right-To-Farm" Legislation

Jul 21, 2014

Santi Kos, manager of Fashion Sport and Uniforms at 1300 NW 23rd St. in Oklahoma City.
Credit Brent Fuchs, The Journal Record

Parents, Cities And Counties Plan For Back-To-School Tax Holiday.

August first through third, shoppers don’t have to pay sales tax on clothing items that cost less than $100. The holiday was implemented in 2007 to discourage shoppers from crossing state lines to save.

That’s good news for family budgets, but it also means the state misses out on $4 million it might have had otherwise.

Cities and counties, however, are reimbursed. The Oklahoma Tax Commission figures out how much it would have collected, and divides that money among 511 cities and 77 counties.

Last year, cities received $2.7 million dollars, with $519,000 going to Oklahoma City.

Supporters of the tax break say it helps families stretch their dollars, and could result in extra revenue for business if people buy one more pair of jeans, for instance.

But economics professor Jonathan Wilner said it just means people buy more on that weekend, rather than spreading out their shopping. He said the holiday doesn’t really change to overall level of economic activity in the state.

Access Medical Centers Urgent Care recently opened two new clinics, including this one at 3617 Northwest Expressway in Oklahoma City.
Credit Brent Fuchs, The Journal Record

New Medical Treatment Centers Open In Oklahoma City.

Access Medical Centers recently opened two urgent care centers in Oklahoma City, with another on the way. The clinics are affiliated with Integris Health.

Toni Lyons, who manages one of the new clinics, said these new facilities offer affordable options when people need care right away but don’t really require an emergency room.

Bruce Lawrence, the president and CEO of Integris Health, said they also help address a shortage of physicians. Clinics like these are often staffed by physicians assistants and registered nurses who can treat illness and minor injuries. When needed, they refer patients to traditional settings.

The growth of these retail health businesses in Oklahoma mirrors a national trend. A trade group says there are about 9,000 retail clinics in the U.S., with 300 more opening each year.

Access Medical Centers already has 20 locations in the Oklahoma.

Cattle graze in eastern Oklahoma County.
Credit Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Supporters Of "Right-To-Farm” Legislation Continue To Push For Measures.

Oklahoma Farm Bureau spokesman John Collison said his group doesn’t want people outside the state telling Oklahoma farmers what they can and can’t do.

If passed during the recent legislative session, House Joint Resolution 1006 by Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha, would have established the kinds of protections for Oklahoma's agriculture producers that Collison and his organization support.

The agriculture industry worries about moves by special interests groups such as the Humane Society and the Sierra Club. 

Those organizations worry about animal abuse and environmental contamination. Such concerns are the motivation for laws such as one in California that sets a minimum cage size for chickens. Florida and Ohio have laws about restrictive pens for pregnant sows.

The agriculture industry worries about creating a patchwork of laws that might harm their ability to economically produce America’s food.

Oklahoma’s right-to-farm bill passed with overwhelming support in the House of Representatives. However, as larger issues took precedence at the end of the session, it was set aside. 

Farm Bureau spokesman Collison said the bill will come up again, and he thinks it will help prevent problems that have happened in other states. 


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