OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is calling for a special session June 13 to provide citizens inflation relief in the form of grocery tax elimination and personal income tax reduction.
Governor Stitt held a press conference Thursday to call for a special session of the Legislature to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries and reduce the personal income tax “for all Oklahomans.”
“Oklahomans are paying skyrocketing prices to feed their families and need relief right now, not a check for a tank of gas that will come in December,” said Gov. Stitt. “I respect the Legislature’s attempt to return money to the taxpayers, but the right policy is to provide a permanent income tax cut. One-time $75 checks will not make a lasting difference for most Oklahomans and could actually increase inflation, not reduce it.”
Despite bipartisan legislation to end the state grocery tax, the final budget agreement did away with the proposal. Stitt says it must be brought back to the table June 13.
“Oklahoma is one of just 13 states that taxes groceries, and it most affects the people who can least afford it. Our strong fiscal discipline over the years has given us the ability to eliminate this tax and now is the right time to do it,” Stitt said.
He also announced his veto of HB 4473 and HB 4474 to provide the “inflation relief” checks and SB 1075 to reduce the tax on motor vehicle purchases – saying lawmakers need to provide Oklahomans with ‘real relief’ now.
The governor line-item vetoed two portions of the budget and said it will go into law without his signature as he was not involved in the budget’s process this year.
On May 20, the proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2023 cleared both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature and was sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt for final approval.
“It’s a bill that appropriates $9.8 billion,” said Sen. Roger Thompson of Okemah, the head of the Senate Budget Committee on this year’s budget.
Included in the budget this year is $32.5 million to eliminate the state’s 13-year waiting list for developmental disability services.
From the budget to the bathroom, Oklahoma’s lawmakers have sent hundreds of bills to Gov. Stitt for approval or veto this session.
Earlier this week, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 615 into law. The new law requires sex education materials used in school counselor-led meetings or classes to be inspected by the student’s parents or legal guardian. This includes topics like sexual orientation and gender identity.
An added amendment also requires schools to enforce a ‘biological sex’ bathroom policy.
The governor also signed a bill into law Wednesday that bans abortion at conception, making Oklahoma the state with the strictest anti-abortion law in the nation.
But that’s not the only anti-abortion legislation to pass this session.
Stitt signed Senate Bill 612 into law earlier this year, and Senate Bill 1503 into law earlier this month.
SB 612 makes it a felony for doctors to perform abortions. Doctors who perform abortions face up to 10 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. It goes into effect in late August.
SB 1503, also known as the Oklahoma Heartbeat Act, is a Texas-style anti-abortion law that opens up physicians to civil lawsuits if they perform abortions after cardiac activity can be detected in an embryo – around six weeks of pregnancy. It immediately went into effect after Stitt signed it.
Other bills signed this session include a new law to require insurance companies to completely cover diagnostic mammograms, one to improve law enforcement mental health, another to update the state’s list of newborn screening conditions to match the federal recommendations, and many more.
However, some bills were also vetoed by Stitt this session.
In early May, the governor vetoed a bill that would have increased coordination between Tribal judicial systems and state agencies, calling it “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
In late April, he also vetoed an amendment to the rules of the State Ethics Commission that would require state officials who are appointed by the Governor as an agency director or a cabinet secretary to file financial disclosure statements.
State legislators and officials were also shocked when Stitt vetoed a bipartisan bill that was created to extend state employees’ unused vacation time.
Along with Governor Stitt’s call for a special session, the Oklahoma Legislature is planning to call a concurrent legislative session concerning $1.8 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) fund spending.
You can view all approved and vetoed bills from the 2022 Legislative Session on LegiScan.