“Wretched excess is an unfortunate human trait that turns a perfectly good idea such as Christmas into a frenzy of last-minute shopping.”
We are close to adjournment and the House and Senate have been accepting or rejecting amendments to conference committee assigned bills. It is also last-minute shopping time for the legislature.
It looks as though this week may be the final week of session, but not before we deal with the surprise move by Senate leadership to spend nearly $80 million dollars for two urban-area projects and efforts in the House to insert new or renewed tax credits and incentives into last-minute legislation.
Senate Bill 1132 would direct a total of $40 million over three years to the half-finished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum near downtown Oklahoma City. The money would come in three installments, beginning in July 2014, from use-tax receipts diverted from the general fund.
Senate Bill 1133 would provide $40 million for the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, dubbed OKPOP, to be built in the Brady Arts District in Tulsa. The funds would come from sales taxes taken out of gross revenues before the money is placed into the general revenue fund in installments from 2015-2018.
Efforts have been uncovered to pass last-minute tax credits and exemptions that would extend credits for wind-energy and coal-mining; give tax credits to a Missouri developer for the construction of housing; and provide a sales tax exemption for an upcoming PGA tournament in Edmond.
All of these issues should have been addressed in a more open and forthright manner earlier in the legislative process and could have been disclosed during the budgeting process. The fact that they weren’t speaks volumes about their popularity to the vast majority of hard-working Oklahomans.
In other news, the Governor has signed more legislation into law.
House Bill 1740 prohibits a scrap metal dealer from paying cash in purchasing more than $1,000 of copper and requires them to issue a check instead after establishing the identity of the seller. The new law, which takes effect Nov. 1, also increases the penalty for providing false information for a scrap metal log book to a felony punishable by a $5,000, imprisonment for up to 2 years or both fine and imprisonment. It also requires scrap metal dealers to be licensed through the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
Senate Bill 283 will require that the State Board of Education be alerted when a school employee is charged with a sex offense. The measure will require district attorneys to notify the State Board of Education when an employee is charged with a felony or violent misdemeanor and when the employee has been convicted or receives a suspended sentence or probationary term for a sex-related crime for which a teaching certificate would be revoked as provided in statute.
School districts must also notify the State Board of Education after the non-re-employment or dismissal of a probationary teacher as a result of finding the person has engaged in criminal sexual activity or sexual misconduct that has impeded the effectiveness of the individual’s performance of school duties. It will go into effect July 1, 2013.
Senate Bill 97 authorizes the Department of Public Safety to issue provisional driver licenses allowing individuals whose licenses have been suspended or revoked to drive to certain locations including their place of employment.
The new law will allow such individuals to drive between their place of residence and their place of employment as well as any college or technology center they may be attending, any court-ordered treatment program they are required to attend, their child’s school or day care provider and any place of worship. Anyone issued a provisional license will be required to pay $25 per month toward the satisfaction of all outstanding driver license reinstatement fees. The bill will go into effect Nov. 1.
It is my pleasure to serve you in the legislature. Please contact me any time with your questions and concerns. You may reach me by calling 1-800-522-8502, emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org; or writing to me at Representative Chuck Hoskin, P.O. Box 941, Vinita, OK 74301.