Step Up Oklahoma Votes on House Floor Coming Monday- Michael Kelsey Offers Agricultural PerspectiveSat, 10 Feb 2018 19:10:38 CST
Week One of the 2018 Oklahoma State Legislature is complete- and it included several historic votes that point to a huge vote on the State House Floor on Monday afternoon- when the revenue component of the so called Step Up Oklahoma plan will be voted on.
Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays sat down and talked with Executive Vice President Michael Kelsey of the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association about week one- and discussed Step Up as well as other measures that are also important to the beef cattle producers in the state. You can listen to their review of Week One by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
A group of business, civic and community leaders last month released a proposal to fix Oklahoma’s continual budget problems called Step Up Oklahoma, which includes a number of revenue measures and government reforms.
The plan was touted by Gov. Mary Fallin in her eighth and final State of the State address on Monday, and has been supported by various individuals and organizations across the state.
In the case of agriculture, here is where the various groups stand:
Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association- Members who attended their January Policy meeting put the group on record in favor of the Step Up Oklahoma Proposal- there were concerns express by members about parts of the proposal.
Oklahoma Grain and Feed and the Oklahoma Agribusiness Association has indicated they are in favor of Step Up
American Farmers and Ranchers- their lobbyist Steve Thompson responded to our question about the proposal saying "we are very supportive of the concept and the direction they are heading. BUT we have declined to formally endorse it as an organization because there were too many aspects that we didn't feel we could sign on to until we saw the final details and had some time to analyze them."
Oklahoma Farm Bureau- The Farm Bureau released a statement at the end of this past week looking at the revenue parts of the Step Up Plan and how they match up to policy set by the delegates of the group at their annual conventions. They are not endorsing or opposing the plan outright. Click here for their statement regarding their policy and Step Up Oklahoma.
Backers of Step Up Oklahoma have put all of the revenue raising items together into one huge tax raising bill. The reform parts of the proposal are several bills in order to pass consitutional muster.
According to Michael Kelsey, "the big one is the revenue package and it includes four basic pieces- the tobacco tax, the fuel tax, the gross production tax in terms of oil and gas and the wind GPT, which is a dollar per megawatt." The measure easily passed out of the House Committee responsible for it- and is now set for a floor vote on Monday afternoon- and Kelsey says that where the 75% vote comes into play. This tax increase must be approved with a 75% yes vote and the reform portions of the Step Up Plan really depend on getting the revenue plan approved. Kelsey noted that his members decided to support the process and that they feel this is a way to protect the State Legislature from going after revenues from property taxes- Ad Valorum- and looking at ending the Ag Sales Tax Exemption.
It is expected that Monday could be one of the most crowded and congested days ever at the state capitol when the Legislature is in session, as thousands of Step Up Oklahoma supporters and those opposing parts or all of it come to make their voices heard.
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