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Advocacy Alerts

Monday, November 12

The federal government is making fundamental  changes to our legal immigration system, putting thousands of Oklahomans at risk – including up to 123,000 children. On October 10th, the Department of Homeland Security proposed a change to the rules that we use to determine whether legal immigrants can apply for legal permanent residency. Under current rules, if legal immigrants have participated in a very narrow range of programs (like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) it will count against them when they apply for a Green Card to live here permanently.

Under the proposed change, participation in a much larger range of programs (including SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare Part D, and housing assistance) will negatively affect the ability of legal immigrants to stay in the country. This rule change would make it harder for families to put food on the table, get medical care when they need it, pay for prescription drugs, and find a safe place to live.

The proposed rule change will be available for public comment until December 10. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard and share how this change could impact struggling Oklahoma families. Oklahoma families are counting on us. Please join us in standing with them. (more…)

Friday, July 6

NOTE: As of October 1st, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority has concluded its public comment period on the Medicaid plan. Next, OHCA will send the proposal and public comments to the federal Medicaid agency for consideration. A new public comment period will open in mid-November when the federal Medicaid agency requests feedback on the proposal. Sign up for email alerts to be updated on the latest developments.

The Oklahoma Medicaid agency is developing a proposal that could potentially take SoonerCare coverage away from low-income parents who are unable to work enough hours. Under this plan, if parents aren’t able to work a certain number of hours or aren’t able to log their hours, they’ll lose the health coverage they need.

There is no evidence that taking away coverage from a person who is unable to work enough will either increase work or improve health. Instead, it actually harms both. A draft of Oklahoma’s plan will be available for public comment until September 30th. This is an opportunity to make your voice heard and show that this isn’t good for struggling families in Oklahoma. Here’s what you’ll find on this page:

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Friday, May 4

In the last few days of legislative session, Oklahoma lawmakers pushed through three bills that are harmful to Oklahoma children and families. These bills have now gone to Governor Fallin for her signature or veto. Please call Gov. Fallin today at (405) 521-2342 and ask her to veto these harmful bills: (more…)

Monday, February 26

Increasing focus is on repealing the capital gains tax break as a solution to fully fund state budget needs and resolve a teacher walkout. A repeal bill (SB 1086) has already passed the Senate with a bipartisan 30-10 majority. It has been placed on the House calendar so that it can go straight to a vote in the full House at any time, but so far House leadership has not brought it to a vote.

Key Points

Oklahoma’s capital gain deduction allows income from the sale of Oklahoma real estate or stock in an Oklahoma-based firm to go fully untaxed.

  • The capital gains tax break is costing Oklahoma hundreds of millions without paying off in economic growth. Economic development experts working with Oklahoma’s Incentive Evaluation Commission concluded that this tax break reduced state revenues by $474 million from 2010 to 2014 while creating only $9 million in revenue growth, for a net cost of $465 million. Corporations can also claim the capital gains deduction, but there is no public information on how much that part of the tax break is costing the state.
  • The capital gains tax break is poorly targeted and poorly monitored. Unlike similar capital gains deductions in other states that have them, Oklahoma’s deduction is not targeted to any specific industry and has no requirement that gains from this tax break be re-invested in Oklahoma.
  • The capital gains tax break benefits a small number of households at the expense of most Oklahomans. The capital gains deduction costs more than $100 million going to less than 20,000 households, or barely 1 percent of all households filing tax returns in Oklahoma. In 2014, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the benefit went just 824 households with incomes of more than $1 million.
  • Ending the capital gains tax break is supported by Oklahoma voters. Fifty-five percent of Oklahoma registered voters favor ending the capital gains tax break, compared to just 35 who would oppose ending it, according to a recent poll by Global Strategy Group for OK Policy that looked at various revenue ideas for the state budget.
  • Lawmakers could also reform the capital gains deduction to protect farmers, middle-income Oklahomans, or other favored groups while still eliminating most of the cost of this large tax break. Even if lawmakers decide to keep the capital gains deduction in some form, that can be done without handing out unknown amounts of money to unknown entities. We can limit the deduction to cap its costs and to make sure that it actually incentivizes economic growth in a way that helps the state as a whole. (Read more about possible reforms here.)

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The Bottom Line

Oklahoma’s capital gains tax break is shown to be a wasteful loophole and inefficient use of tax dollars. Lawmakers should repeal this tax break to ensure a broad-based tax system that works for all Oklahomans without unduly burdening or supporting any small group of people.

Please ask your state Representative to support SB 1086 to sunset the capital gains deduction in 2018.

Locate your state Senator and Representative

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ex: 2300 N Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Monday, February 12

As soon as today, we expect votes on a key set of revenue bills in the Oklahoma House:

  • HB 1030 will give teachers in Oklahoma a long-overdue $5,000 raise.
  • HB 1033 will pay for that raise by increasing gas taxes, tobacco taxes, and taxes on the energy industry. The teacher raises in HB 1030 will not go into effect unless this bill also passes.
  • HB 1037 will undo cuts to Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit and make other changes to the income tax that will increase overall recurring revenues while reducing taxes on low- and moderate-income working families.

Together these bills will stabilize the budget with recurring revenues, provide a teacher raise, and support working families. We expect the vote to be close!

What You Can Do

Please contact your House member today and ask her or him to support HB 1030, HB 1033, and HB 1037.

Locate your state Senator and Representative

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ex: 2300 N Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Passing these bills is a necessary start to solving Oklahoma’s budget problems. These measures will bring immediate benefits and strengthen our ability to push for greater progress in the future — like providing a raise to state workers and reducing the waiting lists for Oklahomans with disabilities or mental illness. When you contact your legislator to support HB 1030, HB 1033, and HB 1037, be sure to share how the failure to resolve the budget crisis will affect your family, your business, or your community.

More Information

 

Thursday, November 9

If the Legislature does not approve new revenues in special session, the consequence will be unimaginable cuts to health care and other protections for our state’s most vulnerable citizens — with the greatest harm to children, seniors, and people with severe disabilities and mental illness. Lawmakers need to hear from you now!

To help keep you informed about what’s happening at the Capitol, we are providing daily updates to our Special Session Frequently Asked Questions.

What You Can Do

On November 6th, the Senate passed HB 1035 on a bipartisan vote of 37-5, which surpassed the 3/4 requirement for revenue bills. On November 8th, the House took up an identical measure, HB 1054. The vote was 71-27, which was two votes short of the 3/4 supermajority needed to pass revenue bills. You can see how Representatives voted here.  See our statement on the failure of HB 1054 to achieve 3/4 support.

HB 1054, which includes a $1.50 cigarette tax increase, a $0.06 fuel tax increase and a 4 percent gross production tax on new wells, is the linchpin of a comprehensive, fair, and long-term solution to the budget crisis. Passage of HB 1054 would unlock an overall deal that would avert devastating budget cuts, provide raises for teachers and state employees, and restore the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers.

HB 1054 was held on a motion to reconsider, which means it can be brought up for another vote no later than November 13th. What you can do:

  • Find out how your legislator voted on HB 1054 and contact them today to say ‘thank you’ or express why you are disappointed by their vote.
  • Contact the Representatives who voted No (see list below) and urge them to change their vote if HB 1054 is brought back to the House floor.

Use the form below to find your Representative.

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Tuesday, September 26

HB 1093 would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to subject SoonerCare members to enhanced verification procedures to determine eligibility for benefits.

HB 1093 would 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. As a result, HB 1093 is contrary to the call of Special Session to deal with the budget shortfall, government inefficiencies, and a teacher pay raise.

Where Things Stand (as of 09/26/17)

A previous version of this legislation (HB 1270) passed the House and the Senate during regular legislative session, but the chambers did not agree on final language. Now HB 1093, which exactly matches the final version of HB 1270, has been introduced during special session. HB 1093 has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Rules committee at 9:30AM, Thursday, September 28. 

What You Can Do

  1. Please contact members of the House Rules committee and ask them to vote No on HB 1093

Rep. Josh Cockroft, Chair                   josh.cockroft@okhouse.gov           (405) 557-7349

Rep. Kevin West, Vice Chair              Kevin.West@okhouse.gov             (405) 557-7343

Rep. Jon Echols                                      jon.echols@okhouse.gov               (405) 557-7354

Rep. Elise Hall                                        elise.hall@okhouse.gov                 (405) 557-7403

Rep. Terry O’Donnell                            terry.odonnell@okhouse.gov        (405) 557-7379

Rep. Weldon Watson                            weldon.watson@okhouse.gov      (405) 557-7330

Rep. Meloyde Blancett                         Meloyde.Blancett@okhouse.gov   (405) 557-7334

Rep. Steve Kouplen                               steve.kouplen@okhouse.gov         (405) 557-7306

Rep. David Perryman                            david.perryman@okhouse.gov      (405) 557-7401

2. Contact your own legislators and ask them to vote No on HB 1093. You can look up your two legislators here or call the House switchboard at 405-521-2711 and the Senate switchboard at 405-524-0126.

Short message: Lawmakers have been called back into Special Session to fix the budget and provide a teacher pay raise, not to create expensive and unnecessary new barriers to health care. Please vote No on HB 1093.
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Sunday, September 17

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

Oklahoma is set to enact a budget 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 historical 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. Restoring the gross production tax to 7 percent on all wells can bring in over $300 million in additional revenue for next year’s budget and even more in future years, helping us avert catastrophic cuts and putting the budget on a more sustainable path.

[arve url=”https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_AFb5O2O5lpQS1iY19TTV9EQ2c/preview” /]

What You Can Do

From talking with legislators, we know that a strong majority are in favor of raising the gross production tax – but legislative leaders have refused to allow a vote on restoring the GPT. Please call Speaker Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz today and insist that they allow a vote on restoring the gross production tax.

Here’s some sample language for you to #CallMcCall

(405) 557-7412 “Hello, Oklahoma is in a crisis and I am calling to insist that Speaker McCall allow a vote to restore the gross production tax to 7% for ALL oil and gas drilling. “

Here’s some sample  for you to #Shout2Schulz!

(405) 521-5612 “Hello, Oklahoma is in a crisis and I am calling to insist that President Pro Tem Schulz allow a vote to restore the gross production tax to 7% for ALL oil and gas drilling. “

Once you’ve called the Speaker and Pro Tem, call your own Senator at 405-524-0126 and your House member at 405-521-2711. 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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Wednesday, May 24

The legislative session began with promises to fix Oklahoma’s structural deficit, fund a teacher pay raise, and stop the reckless use of one-time funds that make our budget problems worse in future years. Unfortunately, lawmakers are now considering a budget deal that breaks all of those promises. Instead of adopting strong, sensible revenue options, they cobbled together a budget using legally questionable gimmicks and even more cuts that will be passed down to regular Oklahomans.

The results of this budget will be a continuing exodus of teachers from Oklahoma schools, larger class sizes and fewer educational opportunities, failing protections for public health and safety, and collapsing support for children, seniors, and Oklahomans with disabilities — in other words, more of the same, but worse.

Oklahomans want and deserve better, even at the cost of coming back into special session to do this right. Lawmakers should vote down this budget and come up with a responsible plan. Join the call to lawmakers to come back with a plan that puts regular people over special interests. [See the full budget statement from OK Policy and the Save Our State coalition here.]

What You Can Do

  • Look up contact information for your State Representative by typing your address into the tool below. Call their office to tell them to vote down SB 860 and come back with a budget deal that funds our communities. If phone lines are busy or voicemails are full, you can send them that message with an email.
  • You can also join us at the State Capitol tomorrow. Oklahomans are dressing in black and bringing flashlights to show legislators that we are willing to shine a light onto the budget process and find the path to a better budget!

Locate your state Senator and Representative

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ex: 2300 N Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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 5/5/17)

UPDATE: Gov. Fallin vetoed HB 1913 on May 5th. Thank you to everyone who contacted the Governor on this issue! Click here for OK Policy’s statement.

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.

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