State Lawmakers Continue to Study Tax Credits

By Rep. Mike Sanders

A House task force has been studying existing state tax credits over the summer. I sat in on a Aug. 10 presentation by the Department of Commerce on whether or not the 5-year ad valorem exemption has helped attract new business.

I am proud to report that the presentation showed that the exemption was performing as expected. The Siemens facility that will locate in Woodward was listed among a number of businesses that are being attracted to the state through the use of this exemption. The statistics presented showed that the money and jobs being brought into the state outweighed the cost of the incentive. The Department of Commerce’s presentation also showed that Texas is among those states using a similar tax incentive, emphasizing the necessity of the tax exemption for Oklahoma to compete for businesses.

However, the reason we are examining this exemption is that cash-strapped school districts and county governments are not being fully reimbursed for the exemption. I am hoping we can find common ground so that the state is able to attract new jobs and industry, but not negatively impact school district or county government functions.

The task force also examined energy-efficient tax credits and a strong case was made for keeping them. The state’s population growth and increased energy use will lead to a need for more power plants, unless homes are made to have greater energy efficiency. The tax credits encourage such efficiency and will help us maintain current utility rates.

In addition to following the tax credit discussion, I have been working to learn more about U.S. Post Office closures. I know the importance a post office can have in a local community. When I heard that the U.S. Postal Service may close at least nine local offices in my district, I wanted to find out what each community can do to try to save their local office.

There are nine locations that could potentially close in House District 59 – Camargo, Concho, Greenfield, Fay, Hitchcock, Loyal, Mutual, Oakwood and Sharon. I contacted U.S. Congressman Frank Lucas’s office and learned that the best way to support your local post office is to come together as a community to approach the U.S. Postal Service. This means surveying the community to document support for the local office, creating a website and holding community meetings.

The U.S. Postal Service is required to notify the public of each step in the process and hold meeting for community input. Under pressure, they are often willing to do other cost-saving measures rather than full closure. These can include a reduction in the number of hours of service at that location or a change in the postal routes.

I recently attended two town hall meetings, one with U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn in Woodward Monday and one with Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb in Seiling Tuesday. The discussion included the over-reaching hand of the federal government, the out-of-control spending in D.C., economic development in Oklahoma and how to build on our current momentum of retaining and recruiting business and jobs to the state.

Congratulations to Lomega High School student Annie Davis of Hitchcock for being named winner of a national fiction writing contest sponsored by Walden Pond Press. Hundreds of entries from all over the United States competed for this high honor and Annie won. You can read her story at Walden.com/blogpost/juniper_berry_contest_winner/

I look forward to new constituent requests that I can turn into legislation next year. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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