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Capitol Insider

Fridays at 4:45 p.m. and Mondays at 7:45 a.m.
  • Hosted by Dick Pryor

A weekly feature produced in partnership with eCapitol, an Oklahoma City-based legislative news and bill tracking service. Dick Pryor talks with eCapitol's Shawn Ashley and reporters about legislative matters in the state of Oklahoma.

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House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, during Monday's State of the State address.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

 

 

With a little more than a month left in the legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers made changes to a tax law and the school grading system this week, and one prominent legislator announced his run for governor.

Repeal of state individual income tax reduction

Oklahoma state Rep. Charles McCall, right, R-Atoka, Speaker of the House, answers a question during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Thursday, April 13, 2017. McCall discussed the budget and teacher pay raises.
Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

 

 


 

What happened at the Capitol this week?

 

Oklahoma lawmakers are plugging away at a 2018 state budget--figuring out where the state’s money will come from and where it will go.

 

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

With a little less than two months until the end of this legislative session, the Oklahoma House and Senate are considering bills covering a wide range of topics, from gun rights to teacher pay raises.

Bill to loosen Oklahoma gun laws failed in Senate

House Bill 2323 would have allowed a citizen 21 or older, without a felony, to carry a loaded gun in their vehicle without a valid handgun license.

Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger speaks during a meeting of the State Board of Equalization in Oklahoma City, Monday, June 20, 2016.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

 

 

Monthly revenue shortages have led Oklahoma finance officials to dip into the Rainy Day Fund again this year, draining it completely.

If the state does not have enough money to pay its monthly bills, it typically takes the difference from a state department.

“Normally, they would look to something like the Department of Transportation, which usually has large amounts of cash,” eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley said in his weekly interview with KGOU.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Bills in the Oklahoma legislature faced a major deadline Thursday: they had to pass in their chamber of origin to continue through the legislative process. Bills affecting anti-discriminatory laws were not successful, but two teacher pay raise measures will move ahead.

Oklahoma prosecutors have filed child prostitution charges against state Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, after police found him in a hotel room with a 17-year-old boy.
Cleveland County Sheriff's Office via AP

 

Leaders in the Oklahoma senate wasted little time to strip state Sen. Ralph Shortey of most of his privileges last Wednesday when allegations emerged that the Oklahoma City Republican had allegedly offered money for sex with a teenage boy.

“Abruptly, late Wednesday morning, the Senate took a recess and the Senate Republicans began caucusing behind closed doors,” eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley told KGOU during his weekly Capitol Insider interview.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

 

The Oklahoma legislature faces an approximately $880 million budget shortfall, and proposals to increase revenue have not gained traction. Meanwhile, the House passed a bill this week that would incrementally increase teacher pay.

 

Oklahomans will have the option to get new identification cards in compliance with the federal government’s REAL ID Act. Also this week, a major rating agency decreased the state’s credit rate, which could make the capitol restoration more expensive.

Governor Mary Fallin signed the REAL ID Act into effect on Thursday to make Oklahoma state licenses comply with federal minimum safety standards of identification.

The Department of Public Safety must now find a provider to issue the IDs.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

 

Gov. Mary Fallin announced this week that Oklahoma will face a revenue failure during the current fiscal year. At the same time, Republican lawmakers are backing away from one of Fallin’s proposals to bring more revenue into the state - a $1.50 tax increase on cigarettes.

The state will not bring in as much individual income, corporate income and sales tax collections this fiscal year as the state equalization board had budgeted for.

 

In this Feb. 6, 2017 photo, Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb speaks at the State of the State in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogracki / AP

 

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.

 

The Oklahoma legislature could make big changes to the state sales taxes this session in an attempt to balance an estimated $870 million budget shortfall and provide a pay raise to teachers.

In her state of the state speech on Monday, Governor Mary Fallin proposed a pair of tax cuts, coupled with an expansion of the state’s sales tax system that would raise Oklahoma’s tax revenue by $1.1 billion.

Gov. Mary Fallin during her 2015 State of the State address Feb. 2, 2015.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

 

As Governor Mary Fallin prepares for her State of the State address on Monday, February 6th, the Oklahoma legislature looks at changes involving taxes, criminal justice and disciplining some of their own.

At the Associated Press Legislative Forum on Thursday, Gov. Fallin said she wants to see, “a major overhaul of our tax system.”

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

The Oklahoma legislature will consider bills covering a wide range of topics in its upcoming session.

eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley told KGOU’s Dick Pryor that lawmakers will tackle issues including handguns, abortion and how to fix the state’s estimated $900 million budget shortfall.

“Really every aspect of state law, state government is touched by the bills that were filed this year,” said Shawn Ashley.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

Oklahoma’s legislative session begins in a couple of weeks. Lawmakers will have to grapple with an estimated $900 million budget shortfall, low levels of education funding, and a crowded prison system, among other problems.

KGOU’s Dick Pryor spoke with eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley about the upcoming session.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

On filling a $900 million budget hole: