Agenda Bills Approved in Committee

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

The priority bills of the 2013 legislative session have been approved in committee, including two measures to further reduce the state income tax.

House Bill 2032 would drop the top personal income tax rate to 5 percent and House Bill 1598 would drop the top rate to 4.99 percent. According to House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Scott Martin, the reduction will cost the state about $47 million in the 2014 fiscal year. The reduction can be offset with spending cuts, but also through revenue growth due to increased economic activity and higher incomes.

Two more important bills would reduce the dependency and abuse associated with food stamps. House Bill 2014 would render ineligible those individuals who have more than $5,000 in cash, in a bank account or in stocks and bonds. It would also reverse a 1997 decision to allow convicted drug felons to receive food stamps. House Bill 1909 would require childless, able-bodied recipients between the ages of 18 to 50 to perform at least 35 hours of work activities to receive food stamps. The activities would include job seeking and career training, volunteer work and education directly related to employment opportunities.

Oklahomans overwhelmingly support the sanctity of life. House Bill 1918 would allow businesses make a new fine created by the Affordable Care Act a deductible expense the state income tax. House Bill 2039 would prohibit the Oklahoma Health Care Authority from issuing Medicaid payments to cover the morning-after pill. Most of us believe that even a surprise pregnancy is a blessing. Our tax dollars should not be paying to end pregnancies and business owners should not be penalize for exercising their beliefs.

The last bill I want to touch on this week is House Bill 2053, which will reverse the now-gone DHS board’s decision to close two residential treatment facilities for citizens facing severe disability challenges. I know of several constituents who have family members in the Enid center. They were very concerned about the closure and rightly so.

I will keep you informed as we move into the next part of the session, during which lawmakers will debate numerous bills on the House floor.

I can be contacted at the Capitol office at (405) 557-7407.

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