Following The McCarville Report’s story earlier this week that Governor Fallin, House Speaker Jeff Hickman and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman have agreed on a proposal to hike the gross production tax from 1 to 2 percent, there’s been growing opposition.
Now, Lt. Governor Todd Lamb says he’s opposed and government has to stop taxing: http://m.newsok.com/oklahoma-lt.-gov.-todd-lamb-increasing-drilling-tax-rate-would-hurt-state/article/4070322
Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, writing on Facebook, says House Speaker Jeff Hickman has an opponent for that post:
“My very good friend and an excellent legislator, Rep. Jason Murphy (sic), is running for Speaker against my very good friend and an excellent legislator, Speaker Jeff Hickman….Democracy in action.”
Asked for comment, Murphey’s response was brief: “The Speaker Designate election will take place on May 5th and I will be the only other candidate aside from Hickman.”
Murphey has opposed Hickman on some issues this session.,
The Legislature and Gov. Mary Fallin did the right thing when they blocked local governments from setting a minimum wage higher than the level set by state law.
The state and federal minimum wage are $7.25 an hour. An Oklahoma City group was pushing an initiative petition seeking to raise that city’s minimum to $10.10 an hour.
The law, signed by Fallin on Monday, seeks to cut short that effort and others by requiring that the state minimum wage supersede any local ordinances.
Generally speaking, we support empowering local government. We’ve spoken out on that cause in the cases of determining school curriculum and regulating tobacco use in public.
But there are good reasons to diverge from that philosophy in this case.
Minimum wage is not a decision suited to local decision-making. That increases the risk of special-interest groups forcing bad policy on local economies. Indeed, this is exactly how we interpret what was happening in Oklahoma City.
Decisions on wage mandates should be made at the state or national level because the repercussions of wage levels go well beyond the local economy.
If Oklahoma City raises its minimum wage and the result is less employment in the state’s largest population center, that increases pressure on the rest of Oklahoma to fund state government through payroll and sales taxes.
Oklahoma’s economy is ill-served by the potential of patchwork on legal wage levels across the map. A state in competition with other states for employers should be able to tell those prospects that there is a single minimum wage level to deal with. A complex wage market is not an advantage in job recruitment.
The state shouldn’t price itself out of the competition for jobs — even low-paying jobs — and neither should it allow any local government to do so. While a metropolis the size of New York City might be able to deal with the self-inflicted wound of a local minimum wage hike, that is not the case for any city in Oklahoma.
The nation is debating a minimum-wage increase. There are valid points on both sides of that issue. One side says raising the minimum wage destroys jobs and causes inflation. The other says the current minimum wage is not a living wage and hasn’t been adjusted for inflation over time.
Whatever decision results from that national debate, it seems clear to us that minimum wage is a decision best left at large political levels. We can see no valid reason to allow local governments to set their own minimum wage, and we salute the governor and legislators for their choice.
Rep. Paul Wesselhoft says Senate candidate Randy Brogdon has made a bogus claim against fellow Senate candidate T. W. Shannon.
Writing on Facebook, Wesselhoft says, “BROGDON IS RIGHT BUT WRONG! (Socrates on Facebook). Randy Brogdon, an excellent legislator, hands out a campaign piece with false information toward T.W. Shannon. Randy says T.W. ‘Killed legislation that would limit the use of drones and spying activity.’ Wrong. That was my bill. I know the facts; and I alone held it back at the request of Gov. Mary Fallin. I will pass it next year! No matter who you support in this Oklahoma race for the U. S. Senate, and all three are excellent candidates, politicians must be factual or we will correct them out of duty.”
Capitol sources say there has been an agreement reached to double the gross production tax on horizontal wells, increasing it from 1% to 2%.
The Governor, Speaker, and President Pro-Tempore are expected to announce this key accord in the coming days.
This move is expected to double the amount of revenue the state takes in from gross production taxes on horizontal wells. No agreement has yet been reached on how the state will spend the increased tax revenue.
Further details are not known at this time, but we will post as soon as we have reliable information.
The House gave final approval to legislation Wednesday putting into statute an agreement made in 2013 between the Governor and the War Veterans Commission addressing smoking in Oklahoma’s veterans centers. Senate Bill 1777, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Pat Ownbey, will permit smoking by the residents of the centers until January 2018.
“I again want to thank the Governor, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the War Veterans Commission and the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs for working together to come up with this plan that accommodates our veterans who smoke while still being considerate of the health of the other residents and employees at the centers,” said Simpson, R-Ardmore. “We have to remember that these centers are home for these veterans and we wanted to make sure that they were treated fairly and had adequate time to prepare for the change.”
SB 1777 requires state operated veterans centers to be designated nonsmoking effective January 1, 2015. At such time, a center may establish an outdoor designated smoking area for residents only. All state operated veterans centers must be entirely nonsmoking by January 1, 2018.
Of the more than 1,400 residents at the center, less than 250 smoke.
Ownbey said the legislation is about fairness.
“This legislation was put together based on discussions we had with Governor Fallin and several veterans’ organizations,” said Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “Senator Simpson and I thought it was unfair to force veterans who are residents at the veterans’ centers to immediately give up smoking. The compromise we worked out was to give them until 2018. Only residents will be allowed to smoke until that date at those locations.”
The need for SB 1777 arose after Gov. Fallin banned smoking on all state property, including the state’s veterans centers, on February 6, 2012, with executive order 2012-01. On April 13, 2012, the governor requested guidelines from the War Veterans Commission for implementation of her executive order but no agreement was reached. In May 2013, SB 501 was signed into law placing the Governor’s executive order into statute. However, since no agreement had been reached between the governor and the War Veterans Commission in 2012, no provisions for the veterans centers were provided in SB 501. SB 1777 reflects the agreement reached in October 2013 between the Governor, the ODVA, the War Veterans Commission and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Once signed by the Governor, the new law will go into effect November 1, 2014.
Senate Communications Division
A measure that would codify in state law a parent’s fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their minor children unanimously passed out of the Senate on Tuesday.
House Bill 1384, by state Rep. Sally Kern, would create the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” and would reaffirm that the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing, education, health care and mental health of their children is a fundamental right.
“The Bible says that children are a gift from God, and it is the Legislature’s job to ensure that the protection and best interest of children always remains in the hands of parents to whom children are entrusted,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City. “I am thankful that the Senate agrees with the House on this. I look forward to House Bill 1384 returning to the House so that it can then be sent on to the governor.”
According to Kern, House Bill 1384 affirms into law a right that has been traditionally understood and protected as fundamental. It ensures that the decisions related to the best interest of a child in areas like education and health care are left with the people who best know and understand the child: their parents.
While, the measure provides general protection for all parental rights, a number of specific rights are enumerated. For example, the measure prohibits medical personnel from providing any prescription drug to or performing any surgical procedures on minor children without prior consent from a parent or legal guardian, unless a physician has determined that the child’s life is in danger and reasonably diligent effort has been made to contact the parent.
The bill also protects the parent in the area of education. For example, the parent has the right to consent in writing before a biometric scan is made of a minor child. Likewise, parents have the right to opt out of any data collection instrument at the district level, except what is necessary for establishing a student’s public school record.
House Bill 1384 passed out of the Senate by a vote of 43-0 and now returns to the House for consideration of Senate amendments.