In The Know: Bill would let voters reduce threshold for passing sales tax hikes only

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

In The News

Bill Would Let Voters Reduce Threshold for Passing Sales Tax Hikes: Oklahoma voters would decide whether to amend the state constitution to make it easier for the Legislature to raise taxes under a bill that cleared its first hurdle Wednesday. The Senate Rules Committee approved a resolution asking voters to reduce the current threshold for passing a tax increase from a three-fourth’s majority of the Legislature to a three-fifth’s majority. The proposal would only apply to sales taxes [AP News].

Voters could dramatically change state constitution: Oklahoma voters could make several significant changes to the state constitution if the Legislature adopts a spate of ballot measures this legislative session. The Senate introduced four resolutions that would put consequential policies on upcoming ballots. Residents could change one of the laws that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has used to strike down several policy bills, they could make it easier for lawmakers to raise taxes, they could divert money that now goes to a trust fund for health and research programs and they could create a fund that reserves oil and gas tax revenues. Members introduced Senate joint resolutions, which direct the secretary of state to put the issues on the ballot, circumventing the signature process. [Journal Record]

Life After Step Up?: The failure of the Step Up proposal has consequences for both the current FY 2018 budget and next year’s budget. But the prospects for another comprehensive revenue package in the aftermath of its defeat may not be as dire as many think. For all the political drama of recent months, there is now a strong, bipartisan consensus that the state has a structural budget deficit that must be addressed with new recurring revenues [OKPolicy]. Frequently asked questions about Oklahoma’s special sessions [OKPolicy].

Miami School Officials and Teachers React to Another Budget Cut by State: Teacher Walkout Considered: Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin had promised to veto budget bills that didn’t include pay raises for teachers. But yesterday she signed an appropriations bill that cuts two percent from state agencies including schools. For superintendents it means once again looking for places to cut and no raises for teachers who say they are fed up [Fox14]. 

Prosperity Policy: No Room for Fear: Rosa Hernandez is undocumented and unafraid. The 21-year-old, originally from Tijuana, Mexico, has lived in Oklahoma since she was 4 years old. She graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa. At a recent rally, she admitted that “I went through a really hard time (when) I found out that I was undocumented because I realized then that I couldn’t reach the dreams that I thought that I could … just because I didn’t have a piece of paper that said that I was born here” [David Blatt/Journal Record]. Congress no longer has a deadline on dreamers, but lawmakers say they still want a fix [USA Today]. 

Fallin Names Clark Jolley as Secretary of Finance: Less than a month after the resignation of Preston Doerflinger, Gov. Mary Fallin has selected Clark Jolley, current vice chairman of the Oklahoma Tax Commission, as her new cabinet secretary of finance. Jolley is a former state senator from Edmond who spent the final five years of his legislative career as chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee [NonDoc].

Online Sales Tax Collection Measure Gets Senate Committee Approval: A bill aimed at increasing tax collections from online sales narrowly made it out of a Senate committee on Wednesday. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed Senate Bill 337, by Sen. Tom Dugger, R-Stillwater, by a vote of 22-21. It heads to the Senate floor. Dugger said the measure would require out-of-state vendors that sell products online to Oklahoma residents to report the name and dollar amount sold to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. Once the Tax Commission obtains the information, it can send the consumer a letter requesting the use tax, he said [Tulsa World].

House Committee Votes to Lift Most Gun Training and Licensing Requirements: Three bills that would greatly loosen restrictions on who can carry guns and where in Oklahoma made their way through the House Public Safety Committee on Wednesday afternoon, with voting largely along party lines. House Bills 2918, 2951 and 3192, all by Rep. Jeff Coody, R-Grandfield, strip away handgun licensing and training requirements and make it easier for school districts to arm personnel [Tulsa World]. Oklahoma Superintendent speaks out about his district’s decision to let teachers carry guns [KOSU]. Politics deeply entrenched in gun law debate [Tahlequah Daily Press].

Spate of Bills Would Outsource Accountability: A few bills making their way through the committee process would allow the Oklahoma Legislature to hire permanent outside help to evaluate agency budgets and industry regulations. Those measures would create new divisions within the state government, and the top legislative leaders would hire the members. One bill would allow top lawmakers to hire 15 people to analyze agency budgets, and the other would hire the same amount of people to review all administrative rules and regulations within the state’s statutes [Journal Record].

Lawmakers Move Forward on Medical Marijuana Regulations Before Oklahoma Vote: Oklahomans haven’t yet voted on a medical marijuana initiative, but the legislature is already moving to regulate it. Sen. Ervin Yen proposes limiting use to terminally ill patients and those with neuropathic pain, muscle spasms from multiple sclerosis or paraplegia, nausea or vomiting because of chemotherapy, or loss of weight or appetite from AIDS or cancer [Public Radio Tulsa].

Legislative Trio Criticizes Newly Altered House Chaplain Program: Three state legislators expressed criticism Wednesday about recent changes to a House chaplain program. Rep. George Young, D-Oklahoma City; Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City; and Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, released a prepared statement calling for the program’s coordinator, Rep. Chuck Strohm, R-Jenks, to make the program more inclusive to all faiths or step down as its overseer [NewsOK]. 

Commissioners Want to Create Board to Oversee Oklahoma County Jail, Sheriff’s Office: After county commissioners were forced to pay millions in unpaid medical bills, the group now is pushing for a trust to oversee the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office and the Oklahoma County Jail. Officials say it all started last year when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma County commissioners had to pay $3.3 million in unpaid medical bills following an audit under the former sheriff, John Whetsel [KFOR]. 

Oklahoma City Council Approves First Better Streets, Safer City Projects: Several improvement projects have been approved for Oklahoma City neighborhoods just months after “Better Streets, Safer City” sales tax collections began. The Oklahoma City Council has approved 16 street resurfacing projects. Construction is slated to begin in the spring. In September, voters approved the “Better Streets, Safer City” initiative. The projects will be funded by the temporary penny sales tax that went into effect January 1 [FOX25].  

Quote of the Day

“I’m in my second year. I’ve lost thirty-one teachers to surrounding states. That’s about ten percent, a little over ten percent of our teachers we’ve lost to surrounding states.”

– Miami Schools Superintendent Jeremy Hogan, speaking on the prospect of losing more teachers following the Governor’s signing of an appropriations bill that cuts another two percent from state agencies and schools [Source].

Number of the Day


Share of births in Oklahoma that were preterm, 2015.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Dental Inequality Hurts Americans: Not being able to see a dentist is related to a range of health problems. Periodontal disease (gum infection) is associated with an increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. In part, this reflects how people with oral health problems tend to be less healthy in other ways; diabetes and smoking, for instance, increase the chances of cardiovascular problems and endanger mouth health. There is also a causal explanation for how oral health issues can lead to or worsen other illnesses. Bacteria originating in oral infections can circulate elsewhere, contributing to heart disease and strokes. A similar phenomenon may be at the root of the finding that pregnant women lacking dental care or teeth cleaning are more likely to experience a preterm delivery (Medicaid covers care related to almost half of births in the United States) [The New York Times].

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

2 thoughts on “In The Know: Bill would let voters reduce threshold for passing sales tax hikes only

  1. Bill Would Let Voters Reduce Threshold for Passing Sales Tax Hikes: Oklahoma voters would decide whether to amend the state constitution. The voters set the present threshold to Control the legislature. We need to make this change to control those few legislators who are manipulating the people’s intent when the present threshold was set(to control over taxation)by lowering the percentage of votes needed to raise taxes.

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