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2017 Oklahoma Legislative Session

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The Oklahoma Supreme Court hears arguments August 8 in the case over the state’s new $1.50-per-pack cigarette fee.

cigarettes
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Two of the largest tobacco companies in the U.S. are suing Oklahoma over the state’s new cigarette fee.

Oklahoma State Capitol
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It’s been one week since state lawmakers finished the regular legislative session and passed a state budget. Here’s what’s happened this week in politics...

 

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin at her 2017 State of the State address on Feb. 6, 2017.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lawmakers finished the 2017 legislative session on Friday the passage of a nearly $7 billion budget. Legislators accomplished some of their goals this year, including compliance with the federal REAL ID Act and a $1.50 fee per pack of cigarettes. But there were also several things that did not happen at the statehouse, including the five items listed below.

Oklahoma state Reps. Leslie Osborn, center, R-Mustang, Kevin Wallace, left, R-Wellston and Glen Mulready, right, R-Tulsa, talk on the House floor in Oklahoma City, Monday, May 22, 2017.
Sue Ogracki / AP

Oklahoma’s legislative session came to a close on Friday, as lawmakers passed a nearly $7 billion budget.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma legislature wraps up today, as lawmakers pass a final budget deal that will fill a nearly $900 million shortfall. Legislators passed several bills that will have an impact on business in the state. Journal Record editor Ted Streuli and KGOU’s Jacob McCleland reviewed some of the business-related bills.

A demonstrator holds up seven fingers to send a message to a House committee that lawmakers should remove discounts and incentives so all oil and gas wells are taxed at 7 percent.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma lawmakers have struggled for months to agree on a formula to patch a nearly $900 million budget hole and sign off on a plan that funds state agencies. To help pay for the budget plan, lawmakers are considering ways to squeeze more from taxes on oil and gas production, an option that has divided politicians and one of the state’s biggest industries.

Matteo Paciotti / Flickr.com

Republicans and Democrats spent weeks battling over ways to fill Oklahoma’s budget shortfall. The two parties have found little common ground on tax revenue, but they have been able to agree on some items that could make it easier to toast legislative achievements, or drown their sorrows following a bill’s defeat.

 

Oklahoma State Capitol Building
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

Oklahoma state lawmakers have yet to agree on a plan to raise money for the state, and could be facing special session. 

In this Monday, April 17, 2017 file photo, state Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow is pictured on the House floor in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogracki / AP

 

Lawmakers are nearing the deadline to propose revenue-raising measures to fill Oklahoma’s $878 million budget hole. All budget and appropriations bills must be introduced before May 19.

Oklahoma state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister discusses school issues during her interview for KGOU's Capitol Insider.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

In this bonus Capitol Insider interview, KGOU's Dick Pryor and eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley sit down with Oklahoma state schools superintendent Joy Hofmeister to talk about education issues, including the state's revised A through F school grading system, teacher pay and four day school weeks. 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin gestures to a chart of budget shortfalls during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, May 3, 2017.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Tensions are rising at the Oklahoma capitol as the legislative session comes to an end, with the state facing a $878 million budget deficit, and no revenue raising measures in sight.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Faillin held a press conference on Wednesday, May 3, 2017,, asking state legislators to balance Oklahoma's budget.
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is urging state lawmakers to work together to find ways to fill the state’s nearly $900 million budget hole.

“This is a serious problem,” Fallin said addressing legislators and reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday.

“It requires leadership and courage to find solutions to the problems that we face in our state. And to not play partisan gridlock politics like we see in Washington, D.C.,” Fallin said.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

What happened at the Capitol this week?

No Teacher Pay Raise Bill Passed

Lawmakers did not pass a teacher pay raise bill, despite both the House and Senate saying they want to pass a measure.

Thursday was the deadline for bills to have passed both chambers, except for legislation that comes from the Joint Committees on Appropriations and Budget.

Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, who was supposed to introduce a bill on the Senate floor that would give teachers a $6000 raise over three years, did not introduce the bill.

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.

 

Lights from a drilling rig near Watonga, Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The 2017 legislative session is beyond the halfway point and the clock is ticking on lawmakers who have until the end of May to set the state’s budget and plug an $870 million funding hole. Legislators say every option is on the table, including one with growing public support: Increasing taxes on oil and gas.

First, it was state Democrats like minority leader Scott Inman, who have long argued Oklahoma’s taxes are too generous for oil and gas companies.

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.

Clinton, Oklahoma, resident Cindy Box and her Horse, Rosie, at Foss State Park.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

In March, the legislature asked state agencies how they would deal with worst-case budget reductions of nearly 15 percent. A cut that deep at the Department of Tourism could cost Oklahoma half of its state parks.

Bob Kerr on his ranch near Carnegie, Okla., which is flanked by turbines from the Blue Canyon Wind Farm.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

 

One major tax incentive for wind energy remains on the books in Oklahoma. And the Legislature is poised to end it — more than three years early. The politics of renewable energy have changed as state revenues have failed, but some wind producers say lawmakers are reneging on a deal that sends a bad message to any industry considering investing in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma’s wind industry has grown year after year. With 3,400 turbines spread across 41 wind farm projects, the state ranks No. 3 in the nation in the American Wind Energy Association’s report on wind power capacity.

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