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Advocacy Alerts

Tuesday, April 18

Download this advocacy alert as a 1-page fact sheet.

Oklahoma is set to enact deep budget cuts that will harm our communities and economy and put the lives of vulnerable children, veterans, and seniors at stake – unless we are willing to take sensible steps to end unaffordable and unnecessary tax breaks. Oklahoma’s longstanding tax rate on oil and gas drilling is 7 percent, but a special tax break gives the industry a 2 percent rate for the first 3 years of any new well. Tax breaks on oil and gas are projected to cost the state over $500 million in lost revenue next year – that’s about half the state’s budget shortfall.

What You Can Do

To save our state, everyone must contribute their fair share. Contact your legislator today and urge them to restore the historical 7 percent tax rate for oil and gas.

Call your House member at 405-521-2711 and your Senator at 405-524-0126. You can also look up contact info for your legislators here.

You can also sign up to be part of the Save Our State coalition supporting a sensible, comprehensive plan – the Blueprint for a Better Budget –  that puts our budget on a sustainable path, averts further budget cuts, and invests in key priorities in education, health care, and public safety.

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Friday, April 14

HB 1913 (Rep. Kannady/Sen. Leewright), the Oklahoma Small Loan Act, would create a new predatory loan product in Oklahoma, known as a Small Loan. These loans would allow interest to be charged at an annual rate of over 200 percent, which is far costlier than what can be charged under current law. These loans would be available in addition to payday loans and other short-term loan products.

Protecting consumers from dangerous financial products is a long-standing role of state government. HB 1913 would overturn existing rate caps on loans of this size and put the financial health of economically vulnerable Oklahomans at greater risk. There is simply no need in Oklahoma for another high-cost predatory loan product designed to trap people in unaffordable debt.

Where Things Stand (as of 4/27/17)

HB 1913 passed the House of Representatives on a 59-31 vote on March 13th and passed the Senate on a 28-16 vote on April 27th. You can see how your Representative voted here and how your Senator voted here. Click here to see OK Policy’s statement expressing disappointment at the bill’s passage.

What You Can Do

Please contact Governor Mary Fallin to express your opposition to HB 1913 and ask her to veto the bill.   You can call her office at (405) 521-2342. You can also contact her via twitter @GovMaryFallin or write her at State Capitol, Room 212, Oklahoma City 73105-3207. Please ask the Governor to reject a bill that would expand predatory lending practices by taking advantage of financially vulnerable Oklahomans. You can also remind her that four years ago she vetoed a bill, SB 817, that would’ve raised fees on small loans and that she should again put the interests of Oklahoma consumers ahead of industry profits.

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Thursday, April 13

A strong and prosperous Oklahoma depends on communities and families that thrive with the help of quality schools with good teachers, well-maintained infrastructure, safe streets and  neighborhoods, and public works like state parks, libraries, and arts initiatives.

We can’t wait another year to fix this. Our schools have already seen funding cuts larger than any other state, and they are struggling to keep class sizes down, to keep well-qualified teachers, or even to keep their doors open five days a week. Nursing homes, rural hospitals, and county health departments are looking at shutting down or cutting back on crucial health services. We could see shuttered state parks, furloughed state troopers, and other deep cuts to basic services for Oklahomans. Without budget reforms this year, revenues may plunge to an all-time low compared to what our communities need to thrive and what Oklahomans expect.

That is why the Save our State Coalition has united behind the Blueprint for a Better Budget, a sensible plan that will:

  • Place Oklahoma on a sustainable path by getting away from one-time revenues and budget gimmicks;
  • Prevent drastic cuts to state services;
  • Invest in core government services like education, public safety, healthcare, and transportation.

There are solutions. But these solution will require lawmakers to take sensible action to raise new revenues. And for that to happen, legislators must hear from you.

Now’s the time to contact your Senator and Representative — by phone, email, or in person, if possible — and urge them to support the Blueprint for a Better Budget as  way to avert further budget cuts, invest in key priorities, and bring the budget into balance. Click here for the easy 30-second guide for saving our state!  (more…)

Monday, April 10

HB 1270 would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to subject SoonerCare members to enhanced verification procedures to determine eligibility for benefits.

Where Things Stand (as of 04/10/17)

HB 1270 passed the Senate Health and Human Services committee on April 10 with every member voting in favor. It has been assigned to the Senate Appropriations committee and will likely be heard when the committee meets at 9:30am on Wednesday, April 12. 

Although HB 1270 has had many harmful provisions removed, it would still require intensive quarterly eligibility verification for most Medicaid members and applications, and require new applicants to complete a a quiz of personal and financial questions to prove their identity.  It imposes pointless obligations on both Oklahoma families and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers the state’s Medicaid program. The legislation doesn’t serve any worthwhile purpose and perpetuates the mistaken notion that public benefit programs like Medicaid are riddled with fraud and abuse.

What You Can Do

 

Please contact Senate Appropriations Chair Sen. Kim David (david@oksenate.gov (405) 521-5590) and Vice Chair Eddie Fields (efields@oksenate.gov (405) 521-5581) and ask them not to hear HB 1270.

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Monday, April 10

Legislators have the opportunity this year to finally turn the tide on Oklahoma’s sky-high incarceration rates. Governor Fallin’s Justice Reform Task Force put forward 27 policy recommendations that would reverse the growth in the state’s prison population. Putting those recommendations into law would allow the state to avoid building three new prisons, saving nearly $2 billion over the next decade.

Where things stand (as of 4/18/2017)

Most of the bills that arose from the work of the Task Force have reached the floor of the opposite chamber, needing only one more vote before heading to the Governor. However, several of the most significant bills have been severely weakened by amendments in the House Judiciary – Criminal Justice and Corrections committee:

  • SB 689: Amendments removed methods for reducing financial burdens on defendants, including income-based payment plans, pilot programs, and education incentives
  • SB 786: Amendment removed tiered sentencing structure for burglary crimes
  • SB 649: Amendment removed provision disallowing nonviolent convictions from being used to lengthen sentences under habitual offender laws
  • SB 650: Amendment requires expungement application to be approved by three separate agencies before submission

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Sunday, April 2

SB 478 would allow insurers to sell health care plans in Oklahoma that don’t include the state’s required health benefits, such as mammograms, diabetes treatment, post-partum maternity care, cancer treatments or autism coverage for children. Although this coverage would likely be less expensive to purchase, it would also be useless for individuals who become sick or develop chronic medical conditions. The skimpy coverage wouldn’t be considered health insurance under federal law, so enrollees would still have to pay a penalty for failing to carry health coverage. 

SB 478 also violates the central premise of health insurance risk pools, where risk is spread across a broad, diverse population. Allowing younger, healthier enrollees to purchase skimpier coverage would drive costs up for families in need of more comprehensive coverage – which could in turn force them out of the market. 

Where things stand (as of 04/10/17)

SB 478 will be heard by the House Insurace committee when it meets on Tuesday, April 11, at 3pm. 

What you can do

Please contact members of the House Insurance Committee and ask them to vote no on SB 478.

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Friday, March 31

As a result of continued declines in state revenues, another cut to Oklahoma’s top income tax rate will not be triggered in 2018. However, unless legislators take action this year, the top income tax cut rate could kick in automatically as early as 2019, well before Oklahoma’s budget will have had a chance to stabilize.  After the steep funding cuts of recent years, legislators should halt this tax cut and make sure we have the revenues to do what Oklahomans expect from state services before going ahead with any further tax cuts. Two bills that would fully repeal the next income tax cut  (SB 170) or delay it for several years (SB 130) have been making their way through the legislative process.

Where Things Stand (as of 4/20)

SB 170 passed the full Senate 39-6 on March 13th (click here to find out how your Senator voted). SB 130 was initially defeated on a vote by the full Senate but then passed 34-8 on a motion to reconsider   Click here to find out how your Senator voted.

Both bills passed the Finance Subcommittee of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee on March 29th. SB 170 then passed the full House Appropriations and Budget Committee on April 3rd and passed the full House on April 19th on a vote of 75-12. Click here to found out how your Representative voted. SB 130 will not emerge from committee.

The House amended SB 170 by restoring title, which had been stricken in the Senate. The Senate will need to accept House amendments to restore title before the bill goes to the Governor.

What You Can Do

Once SB 170 gains final passage through the Senate, you can call Gov. Fallin and ask her to sign the bill.

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Wednesday, March 22

HB 2209 (Rep. Marcus McEntire – R. Duncan/Sen. AJ Griffin – R. Guthrie) is good legislation that would help promote better tax policy decisions in Oklahoma by ensuring that legislators and the public know more about who pays taxes and who would stand to gain or lose from proposed tax policy changes.

HB 2209 directs the Oklahoma Tax Commission to prepare a tax incidence report that shows who will pay more or less taxes on any bill that increases, decreases, or redistributes income by more than $20 million, upon the request of the Chair of the committee to which the bill is assigned.

Where Things Stand (as of 4/7)

HB 2209 unanimously passed the full House on March 14th. Thanks to all of you who contacted your House members about this bill! HB 2209 has been assigned to the Senate Finance Appropriations Committee and is on the committee agenda for Tuesday, April 11th. If it passes, it will then go to the full Senate Appropriations Committee on April 12th and then on to the full Senate.

What You Should Do

  • Contact members of the Senate Finance committee prior to April 11th and ask them to support HB 2209

Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance

Sen. Roger Thompson, Chair  thompson@oksenate.gov       (405) 521-5588

Sen. Josh Brecheen, Vice Chair  brecheen@oksenate.gov        (405) 521-5586

Sen. Micheal Bergstrom  bergstrom@oksenate.gov      (405) 521-5561

Sen. Stephanie Bice bice@oksenate.gov                (405) 521-5592

Sen. J.J. Dossett  dossett@oksenate.gov            (405) 521-5566

Sen. Tom Dugger  dugger@oksenate.gov            (405) 521-5572

Sen. A J Griffin   griffin@oksenate.gov             (405) 521-5628

Sen. Dan Newberry  newberry@oksenate.gov        (405) 521-5600

Sen. Lonnie Paxton paxton@oksenate.gov            (405) 521-5537

Sen. John Sparks  sparks@oksenate.gov             (405) 521-5553

Sen. Gary Stanislawski  stanislawski@oksenate.gov    (405) 521-5624

Sen. Ervin Yen  yen@oksenate.gov                 (405) 521-5543

Wednesday, March 1

HB 2342 would supply an urgently-needed supplemental appropriation to the state Department of Human Services (DHS) to fund in-home care for elderly Oklahomans and Oklahomans with significant disabilities. Without this appropriation, DHS will be unable to pay these providers after April of this year, jeopardizing care for more than 25,000 vulnerable Oklahomans.

HB 2342 provides a $34.0 million supplemental to be paid for with money from the Rainy Day Fund ($4.2 million) and Unclaimed Property Fund ($29.8 million). Of the money from the Unclaimed Property Fund, $18.0 million is directed for Developmental Disabilities Services waivers and $11.8 million is directed for the purpose of funding Aging Services waivers.

Where things stand (as of 04/7/17)

HB 2342 was introduced on March 21st.  It passed the House of Representatives unanimously March 29th and the Senate 33-13 April 3rd. The bill was signed by Governor Fallin on April 6th.

What you can do

Thank you to everyone who spoke out to their legislators on this issue! (more…)

Thursday, February 23

Legislators have the opportunity this session to help ensure that Oklahomans convicted of crimes have a fair shot at rebuilding their lives. They need to hear that you support these efforts.

People convicted of crimes face enormous fines and fees that they often can’t pay, trapping them in a cycle of debt and incarceration. SB 689 would require that judges set monthly payments on that debt according to a defendant’s income, so that their families don’t have to choose between paying their court debt or buying groceries. It also waives court fines and fees for those who seek to better themselves through higher education or workforce training.

What You Can Do

All of SB 689’s provisions dealing with fines and fees – including income-based payment plans, pilot programs, and education incentives – were removed in the House Judiciary – Criminal Justice and Corrections committee, but they can be put back in either on the House floor or in conference committee. Please call House Speaker Charles McCall (charles.mccall@okhouse.gov; (405) 557-7412), as well as your representative (Find your legislator), and urge them to restore the bills to their original form and ensure that Oklahoma takes bold steps on criminal justice reform this year.

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