In The Know: Suit filed against state income tax-cut

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Today you should know that a suit filed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court challenged an income tax-cut bill signed by the Governor this session; the suit argues that the bill violated the state’s single-subject rule and failed to secure the three-fourths support required of revenue bills.  More than 7,000 people have registered with FEMA for disaster relief across Cleveland, Oklahoma, Lincoln, Pottawatomie and McClain counties.

Oklahoma farmers got a boost from recent rains, but are wary about the longer-term drought cycle.  Two shuttered north Tulsa recreation centers, B.C. Franklin and Springdale park, would be guaranteed additional funding under a proposed budget amendment, but city officials say the money would fall short of funding the repairs needed to reopen them.

Even if the state managed to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid for low-income Oklahomans, some 330,000 would remain uninsured after the new health law goes into full effect.  Gov. Mary Fallin acted on the last pending bill sent to her during the legislative session, vetoing a measure that dealt with county assessors’ training.  The OK Policy Blog provided an end-of-session summary of what happened to legislation that we covered during the year.

A bill to change the way the government regulates ash from coal-fired power plants – which contains arsenic, selenium, lead, cadmium, and mercury – is making its way through Congress.  Sen. Tom Coburn introduced legislation promoting the replacement of $1 bills with $1 coins.

The Number of the Day is the amount the state currently pays in tax subsidies each year to oil & gas companies for drilling horizontal wells in Oklahoma.  In today’s Policy Note, the American Immigration Council reports on expert consensus across the political spectrum about the enormous economic potential of broad-based immigration reform.

In The News

OKC attorney challenges tax-cut bill
Fent filed suit with the Oklahoma Supreme Court alleging that House Bill 2032 violates the state Constitution because it contains more than one subject. HB 2032, which Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law, reduces the state’s top tax rate a quarter of a percentage point to 5 percent in 2015 with prospects for an additional cut to 4.85 percent in 2016 if there is sufficient growth revenue to pay for it. Fent said the bill also failed to secure the three-fourths support in both legislative chambers that is required of revenue bills.

Read more from Tulsa World 

More than 7,000 sign up for FEMA disaster assistance
The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have updated figures reflecting the organizations’ response to the recent tornadoes in central Oklahoma. FEMA has approved more than $5 million in disaster relief assistance to individuals in central Oklahoma. More than 7,000 people have registered with FEMA for disaster relief across Cleveland, Oklahoma, Lincoln, Pottawatomie and McClain counties.

Read more from NewsOK

Drought conditions improving for Green Country farmers, beef prices expected to maintain

Ray Heldermon, a cattle farmer in Rogers County, is smiling ear to ear following all the rain his farmland has received. His pastures are green and the ponds are full. “It isn’t good grass, but we’ll take whatever we can get it right now,” Heldermon said. OSU Extension Ag Agent Donna Patterson says for the most part the rain has been good for farmers in her county. But we’re still not out of a drought cycle. She says this may just be a wet year in the cycle.

Read more from KJRH

Budget amendment on two closed north Tulsa rec centers heard at Council meeting
Two shuttered north Tulsa recreation centers would be guaranteed additional funding under a budget amendment proposed Thursday, but city officials say the money would come far short of funding the repairs needed to reopen them. City Councilor Jack Henderson said he wants to earmark $248,000 from a city economic development account for future repairs to the B.C. Franklin and Springdale park recreation centers, adding $124,000 to the existing funds for each center. City officials say they already have $800,000 and $711,847 to spend on the parks, respectively, but that another $900,000 and $1.4 million respectively would be needed to make the recreation centers usable.

Read more from Tulsa World

Study says Affordable Care Act will leave many uninsured
Some 330,000 Oklahomans will be left without insurance after “Obamacare” takes full effect next year, even if the state accepts a controversial expansion of its Medicaid program, researchers from Harvard University and the City University of New York reported Thursday. Nationally, most of the people left without coverage will be working people and U.S. citizens, the report shows. “The (Affordable Care Act), whatever its merits, will fall well short of its stated goal of providing affordable care for all Americans,” the report – released on the Health Affairs blog – concludes.

Read more from Tulsa World

Oklahoma governor acts on last bill of session
Gov. Mary Fallin acted Thursday on the last remaining bill sent to her during the legislative session that ended two weeks ago. Fallin vetoed Senate Bill 954, which dealt with the training that county assessors receive. Fallin, a Republican, this year signed 432 bills into law and vetoed 17 of the measures sent to her by the GOP-controlled Legislature. Last year, she signed into law 396 bills and vetoed 11.

Read more from NewsOK

Whatever happened to… ?

The 1st session of the 54th Oklahoma Legislature has adjourned, and the deadline is passed for Governor Fallin to sign or veto bills. Out of 2,450 bills introduced since the beginning of session, just 411 bills, or about 17 percent, made it into law. Governor Fallin vetoed 14 bills, and the rest remain dormant or were defeated in the Legislature. Each year after the session wraps up, we provide a summary of what happened to legislation that we discussed during the year (see 2011 and 2012).

Read more from OK Policy Blog

McKinley: New coal-ash bill tackles EPA concerns
For two years, one of the two professional engineers in Congress has pushed a bill to let states regulate fly ash from coal-fired power plants, a move U.S. Rep. David McKinley says would benefit coal and power companies and the construction industry he’s worked in since the 1960s. Each time, the West Virginia Republican’s bill clears the House, only to die in the Senate. But McKinley says this year is different: The latest version of the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act (H.R. 2218) was crafted with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which McKinley said is “not opposing” the draft that cleared a House subcommittee Thursday.

Read more from The Associated Press

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn supports move from $1 bill to $1 coin system, 1 of 4 behind legislation
Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn has joined four other senators in promoting the replacement of $1 bills with $1 coins. Coburn joined fellow Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Mike Enzi of Wyoming and Democrats Tom Harkin of Iowa and Mark Udall of Colorado in introducing legislation to promote the $1 coin as a way to save money and reduce the federal deficit.

Read more from KJRH

Quote of the Day

“If we don’t do something, it’s business as usual, right back to the way it was. You’re not going to do nothing but talk.”

Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson, on his plan to reallocate budgeted funds to put some money aside for two shuttered north Tulsa recreation centers

Number of the Day

$100 million

Amount the state currently pays in tax subsidies each year to oil & gas companies for drilling horizontal wells in Oklahoma 

Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Experts from Left and Right Agree on Economic Power of Immigration Reform

In recent years, study after study has demonstrated a simple yet economically powerful truth about broad-based immigration reform: workers with legal status earn more than workers who are unauthorized—and these extra earnings generate more tax revenue, as well as more consumer spending, which creates more jobs. As a new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) points out, this fact implies that states with appreciable unauthorized populations stand to gain economically from immigration reform that includes a legalization program for the unauthorized. Moreover, a new open letter to Congressional leaders released by the conservative American Action Forum illustrates that it is not only liberal advocacy groups like CAP which recognize the economic potential of immigration reform.

Read more from the American Immigration Council

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