Tax Cut Plan Signed into Law

By Rep. Mike Sanders

The reduction of the individual income tax in Oklahoma is a primary focus of conservative House lawmakers. To that end, we voted to send a tax cut bill to the governor that will reduce Oklahoma’s top income tax rate by .25 percent in Fiscal Year 2016 and by an additional .15 percent no sooner than two years later, if revenue growth continues. The governor has now signed that legislation into law.

Senate Bill 1246 is a clean tax cut plan compared to last year’s legislation. Last year, spending was added into the tax cut proposal, raising constitutional questions. House lawmakers approved the bill with reservations because it was the only tax cut plan available after negotiations with the Senate. This year’s plan faces no such hurdle.

I also want to tell you about several important measures that were signed into law.

Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation into law to provide a pay raise to Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers. Senate Bill 232 repeals the existing pay scales and says troopers should be paid according to a state employee compensation study. Once implemented, troopers would receive a 14 percent raise to meet the average pay of their counterparts in other states.

The governor also signed a bill into law to allow a child witness to have a therapeutic dog present while testifying in a criminal court proceeding. It is difficult for children to testify, especially when a child is the victim of a crime. Therapeutic dogs have been shown to calm children, reducing the negative impact of testifying in front of their victimizers and improving the testimony they are able to provide to the court.

Another new law set to take effect in November will allow the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs to share data from the state’s prescription drug monitoring program with officials in other states that have reciprocal agreements.

Under a another new law, any involved party can request an emergency hearing within 72 hours of a child being taken away from a home to determine whether or not the child has been harmed or threatened with harm or death. This is part of our ongoing efforts to improve the child welfare system in Oklahoma.

Two of the bills I authored this year are now signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. House Bill 3090 will give the county treasurer more flexibility in holding county resales. House Bill 3087 raises the amount of money that can be spent on roads and bridges without a bid in order to help the Oklahoma Department of Transportation take on emergency projects, say after a severe storm or tornado.

Lastly, the governor signed into law a bill that will increase the penalties for human trafficking. The law also requires those convicted of human trafficking to serve 85 percent of their sentences before they are eligible for parole. They took away someone else’s freedom, so we are taking away theirs.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at (405) 557-7407.

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