State Capitol

News from Oklahoma's Capitol: from the state legislature, governor's office and state agencies.

State Leaders, Workers Enjoy Ample Health Benefits

Aug 6, 2013
Oklahoma Capitol Building
ana branca / Flickr

When Gov. Mary Fallin and Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb go see their primary-care doctors, they pay $30 out of pocket. Their prescriptions cost $10 if they get generics, more if they get name-brand drugs.

Oklahoma taxpayers pick up the entire cost of their insurance premiums, which total $18,113 per year for each of their families.

In fact, the health allowance they receive from the state totals $19,717 a year. They can use the surplus to pay for other state benefits or roll it into their take-home pay.

KellyK / Flickr Creative Commons

The renovated commission responsible for overseeing, among other things, State Capitol repairs should soon begin its work.

John Estus, spokesman for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, said the agency hopes the Long-Range Capital Planning Commission will begin its work in “late summer or early fall.”

ensign_beedrill / Flickr Creative Commons

As workers remodel House and Senate space in the State Capitol, lawmakers are confident the construction will not affect a possible special legislative session.

House Media Director Jason Sutton and Senate Communications Director Malia Bennett told eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley the current construction on offices or committee rooms would not impact the work lawmakers may be called to do.

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon
Oklahoma House

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon is planning to release a list of legislative studies that lawmakers will take up before the 2014 Legislature convenes in February.

Shannon is expected to release the list on Friday, the deadline for study requests by lawmakers to be approved or denied. Former House Speaker Kris Steele approved studies on 59 topics out of 89 individual requests last year.

Interim studies give lawmakers an opportunity to receive testimony and examine issues in depth to decide whether to draft legislation on a particular topic.

ensign_beedrill / Flickr Creative Commons

More than 70 bills take effect Monday, including legislation that will ultimately provide for a 2015 Oklahoma income tax reduction and fund repairs to the State Capitol.

ECapitol’s Shawn Ashley reports the bill apportions $60 million to the fund in fiscal year 2014 and FY2015.

Republican House Speaker T.W. Shannon says user fees have gone up by about $100 million since 2007, and he wanted to ban most fee increases this past legislative session.

But in the end, it was more of a technicality than worry over how to fund the government that killed House Bill 1914.

Shannon’s bill passed the House and Senate, but was never sent to Gov. Mary Fallin to be signed into law. So, the fees agencies charge for their services can continue to go up … and they are.

Lawmakers Approve Income Tax Cut Despite Threat of Reimbursment Costs

May 6, 2013
401(K) 2013 / Flickr Creative Commons

A lawsuit by an out-of-state company that challenges a tax break on capital gains for Oklahoma-based businesses is causing some concern at the state Capitol.

An analysis on the potential costs of a tax reimbursement show Oklahoma could be on the hook for as much as $480 million if the court rules in favor of tax payers.

Republican State Rep. Jeff Hickman raised the issue during questions on a tax cut bill approved by the House last week. But budget negotiators said any repercussions of the capital gains issue should be worked out apart from the state budget.

Okla. GOP Leaders Agree on Tax Cuts for 2015

Apr 24, 2013
Gov. Mary Fallin, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa), and House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) announce their tax cut proposal in the Blue Room of the State Capitol - April 23, 2013.
Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

The Republican leaders at the State Capitol gathered in the Blue Room Tuesday to announce what they’re calling major agreements on several key proposals before lawmakers this session.

Gov. Mary Fallin, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa) and House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) each took turns describing the plan to cut state income taxes, change the workers’ compensation system and repair the State Capitol.

No "Black Helicopters" at State Capitol

Mar 26, 2013
Marshall Astor / Flickr (Creative Commons)

A state environmental group says Oklahoma lawmakers are wasting their time focusing on legislation intended to feed an extremist agenda. The Oklahoma Chapter of the Sierra Club specifically targeted a bill by Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City dealing with an international takeover of Oklahoma the environmental organization says doesn’t exist.

Graduates of the 60th Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper academy.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol

 The Oklahoma House has overwhelmingly approved a $7.3 million plan to give state Highway Patrol troopers a pay increase.

The House voted 90-0 on Thursday for the bill by Dacoma Republican Rep. Jeff Hickman. It now goes to the state Senate.

Hickman says one-third of the roughly 770 troopers currently are retirement eligible and that there's a critical "manpower issue."

The bill would boost the starting salary of a cadet from $33,192 to $38,602. Starting troopers who have completed their probation would see their pay boosted from $38,000 to $44,194.