OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The House has passed seven bills related to tax cuts to improve rising costs for Oklahomans, but the Senate claims those bills are dead-in-the-water because of lawmakers adjourning the 3rd Special Session.
House leadership released a statement with help from their legal staff saying:
“There is no legal basis to back up false claims that these bills cannot become law. Because the House directed its desk to remain open after the special session Sine Die motion, the bills can be received after the Senate votes on them and sent to the governor for signature. The desk can remain open as long as is necessary. It does not have to close today. All that is needed for these bills to become law are Senate votes to approve them and signatures from the governor, who has signaled his support.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said that the whole day was political theater.
“It’s all about being able to do campaign mailers in the district. What the House delivered on today cannot become law. And I’m shocked the Governor doesn’t realize that. I saw the Governor’s comments applauding the House’s efforts. This really is about having political mailers to send out and say we cut your taxes. I’m sure they’re already at the mill house,” said Senator Treat.
The House did pass seven bills related to sales tax cuts on groceries and personal income tax cuts, topics within the paramotors of the 3rd Special Session called by Governor Kevin Stitt.
Governor Stitt sent out a statement following the passage of the bills:
“Oklahoma families need inflation relief now and I am glad the House passed legislation to eliminate the state grocery sales tax and reduce personal income tax, both of which I called for in my State of the State address in February. The Senate has already passed tax cuts this year, so I am optimistic that they will join our efforts to deliver the inflation relief Oklahomans need.“
The bills were passed in a way for the Senate to decide on two options.
Two personal income tax cuts were voted on.
HB1008XXX reduced the top tax rate by .25% from 4.75 to 4.50 percent. That acted for a two year period only, 2022 and 2023.
HB1009XXX was a similar bill, but with a permanent effect.
When it came to grocery taxes, there were multiple year options and different restrictions for each bill.
HB1012XXX placed a two year moratorium on sales tax for groceries. It did not have restrictions for city or county governments to find ways to reimburse lost revenue.
HB1013XXX was similar to HB1012XXX, but it did place restrictions on city and county governments raising other taxes to balance their lost revenue.
There two more grocery tax cut bills, but their effect was permanent.
HB1014XXX created a permanent cut on sales tax for groceries, with no restrictions for local governments.
HB1015XXX created a permanent cut on sales tax for groceries, but did have restrictions for local governments. However, an amendment was added to eliminate restrictions after two years.
In the House’s statement in response to Senator Greg Treat, lawmakers took aim at the inaction from the Senate. They said House members did their part in fulfilling the Governor’s special session agenda.
“The bottom line is if the Senate was passing bills instead of fabricating false legal excuses, Oklahomans could stop paying state sales tax on groceries come July 1,” said Jon Echols (R – OKC), House Majority Floor Leader.
The Senate says they will hold a special group meeting on Monday to discuss tax reform for inflation relief. However, it is not clear where the bills approved by the House will end up or if Oklahomans will see any relief from the state at all.