By Rep. RICK WEST
Couple of issues to highlight that got taken care of this last week of session:
Several legislators this week announced plans to open temporary mega centers in Oklahoma City and Tulsa to help address the backlog of about 300,000 people waiting to get a REAL ID. The Department of Public Safety experienced many issues surrounding technology in switching to REAL ID systems. Then COVID forced them to limit how many people could apply in person at a time. These centers are only temporary. They shouldn’t affect our rural tag agents.
Another issue we addressed this year is funding for rural school districts in low property value areas. We found we have 334 school districts throughout the state that receive less in local ad valorem taxes than other districts. To bring these districts to the same level of funding as others, we are going to use medical marijuana taxes and the Common School Building Equalization Fund.
The Legislature also passed Senate Bill 422, which will allow various types of proof of eligibility to be presented to receive agricultural tax exemptions. You could present copies of IRS Schedule F, IRS form 1065 or IRS form 4835, or any equivalent form prescribed by the Internal Revenue Service, with respect to a federal income tax return; a one-page business description form provided by the Oklahoma Tax Commission; Farm Service Agency form 156EZ; or other documents at the discretion of the Oklahoma Tax Commission that verify active agriculture production.
This is something our local farmers and ranchers have asked for. I’m hoping the governor will sign it before you even read this.
I also want to give a quick overview of this legislative session. Conservatives showed up in force and passed some good legislation.
We cut personal income taxes for all taxpayers by 0.25 percent. We protected our Second Amendment rights by declaring Oklahoma a Second Amendment Sanctuary Sate, free from any government attempt to confiscate or buy back firearms. We protected our right to gather at church no matter what state of emergency we might be in. We passed several anti-abortion bills that will protect the lives of the unborn. We protected the 10th Amendment rights of our state with a bill that will allow us to examine and potentially litigate against any executive order or federal rule that we find to be unconstitutional.
It’s not always what you pass, however, it’s what you stop.
Of the 3,000 bills or resolutions we started with this session between the House and Senate, we cut that down to only 600 bills sent to the governor to be signed into law. So far, he’s signed 541 of those and let three become law without his signature.
The truth is, everyone elected to office comes to the Capitol with a list of things they want to get accomplished, but at the end of the day we only want good solid laws in place that protect our freedoms and keep us clear of too much government regulation.
Even though we are in interim, I still have a fulltime legislative assistant available to help with any issues that arise. If I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at [email protected].
Rick West represents District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of LeFlore County.
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