February 5, 2016

Miller: Gross revenue receipts plunge in January

Monthly gross revenue receipts for January took their largest plunge in more than five years, State Treasurer Ken Miller reported Friday.               

January collections totaled $985.4 million, according to Miller, down by almost $150 million or more than 13 percent compared to the same month of the prior year. It is the first double-digit percentage decline in monthly gross receipts since the treasurer’s office began tracking them in March 2010.

 

“The surplus-driven energy contraction continues to spill over into all of Oklahoma’s main revenue sources,” Miller said in a press release. “Every major revenue stream in January is smaller than a year ago. Collections from oil and natural gas gross production are off by more than 50 percent, and the downturn is suppressing income, sales, and motor vehicle tax collections.”

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February 5, 2016

Fallin disapproves proposed commutation rules

Gov. Mary Fallin has disapproved the Pardon and Parole Board’s most recently proposed commutation rules, saying they were too narrowly drawn.               

The rules were submitted to Fallin on Dec. 18. In a Jan. 29 letter, Fallin disapproved them and prohibited their adoption.               

“These proposed permanent rules contain significant deficiencies, the most notable being that general eligibility guidelines are drawn so narrowly that recently approved commutations would, in fact, be precluded from consideration under the new rules,” Fallin wrote in her notification to the agency.

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February 5, 2016

Shelton to try luck with lottery bill once again

Rep. Mike Shelton will try his luck once more with a bill that would eliminate the Oklahoma lottery’s 35 percent net proceeds minimum requirement.                

Amidst criticism that the Oklahoma lottery has done very little for common education, Shelton said, “People criticize my lottery bill but it would be $70 million less into education had the lottery not been set up. The people of Oklahoma voted to set up the lottery but it’s the Legislature’s responsibility to make it work and we’ve done nothing but set it up failure.”

Shelton said lawmakers, especially those who criticize the lottery, have never offered up changes to “make it work.”

 

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February 5, 2016

Treat’s pre-K funding bill to go unheard

A proposal to remove early childhood education from the State Aid formula will not be heard this session, Sen. Great Treat announced Thursday, but instead will become the subject of an interim study.

“We’re facing a nearly $1 billion revenue shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year, which may require cuts to common education,” Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said in a press release.  “I introduced SB1234 to explore the option of giving local school districts more flexibility over funding streams for Pre-K. State resources are limited and this bill would allow local officials to shift funds from Pre-K to serve students in K-12. These would not be new taxes but rather existing local funding streams that are currently restricted by state statute.”               

The bill was double-assigned to the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which Treat serves as vice-chair. Treat said Senate Education Chair John Ford, R-Bartlesville, had said he will not hear the bill but would consider it in an interim study after session, if approved by Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.

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February 5, 2016

Legislators respond to Fallin’s failure to menti

Two legislators have commented on Gov. Mary Fallin’s failure to mention earthquakes during her State of the State Address on Monday.

During her speech, Fallin thanked first-responders for working through many of last year’s natural disasters.

“Just look at our first responders who, in the past year alone, have provided world-class responses to floods, tornadoes, blizzards and ice storms,” she said.

In an interview on Monday, Rep. Mike Shelton said a legislator on the House floor yelled out “earthquakes” after she listed the natural disasters, to which Fallin said, “I’m not going to say that word.”

 

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February 4, 2016

House Public Safety Committee passes seven bills

Two of Thursday’s most discussed bills during the House Public Safety Committee agenda were laid over in order to be reassigned to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee due to unreported fiscal impacts.                

The first of the two is HB2275, by Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing which requires the submission of DNA samples from persons arrested for felony crimes. A committee substitute was adopted. The changes include the addition of the definition of arrested and cleanup language offered by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), said Denney.               

“I’ve run this bill before but this is new language. A DNA sample would be taken upon booking but I would not be uploaded until the person was bound over for trial or they skip bail, and only on people older than 18 years of age,” she said.

 

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