Monday, January 30, 2012

Outline of 2012 Legislation

Since I first ran for office, I have fought to bring accessibility and accountability to this office. I believe the best way I can serve my constituents it to keep you updated and well-informed on legislative issues.
As part of that effort, this column discusses each bill I filed this year. I realize that we won’t all agree on every issue, but I believe as we work through each issue we can find solutions that benefit everyone. The most enjoyable part of my job is talking with you and addressing your concerns while working towards a common goal: making Oklahoma better.
The bills I have filed for the 2012 legislative session are as follows:
  • HB3038 implements a 10-year phase-out of Oklahoma’s personal income tax.
  • HB1544 changes all school board election dates to a regular November election cycle and institutes a uniform four-year term for all board members.
  • HB2379 creates a one-stop initiative website for all Open Records requests.
  • HB2380 allows correctional officers with the Office of Juvenile Affairs to be served the same meals served to the youth within the institution at no charge to the officer.
  • HB2381 requires physicians to be present when prescribing, dispensing, or otherwise providing the drug mifeprestone(RU-486) and prohibits “Webcam abortions.”
  • HB2382 modifies the Ambulance Service District Act to reduce red tape and decrease percentage needed for petition to create a district.
  • HB2383 allows firearm training and qualification course providers to determine course fee, and provides instructors immunity from frivolous lawsuits.
  • HB2384 modifies the manner in which handguns may be transported on certain public properties.
  • HB2385 creates the “Emergency Medical Service Survival Act” and permits the Trauma Care Assistance Fund to be used for establishing the Rural Emergency Medical Technical and Paramedic Scholarship Program.
  • HB2437 strengthens the Sex Offender “Zone of Safety” that bans rapists from living near schools (requested by members of the Pottawatomie County Sheriffs Department).
  • HB2438 designates the portion of State Highway 39  between Asher and Konowa as the “Deputy Mike Roberts and Tim Lowery Memorial Highway” to honor the lives of these men who gave our community so much.
  • HB2439 creates the “Volunteer Firefighter Protection Act” to prohibit public and private employers from firing a worker who is late or absent due to a first-responder call.
            To see the complete language of each bill, visit my blog at To view all legislation filed in the House and Senate, visit: Realize that all legislation constantly undergoes changes and some will change dramatically before their final form is voted on. 
I look forward to visiting with you and hearing your suggestions, questions, and concerns. Once again, I am always available. If I can help you in any way, please call my office at 405-557-7349 or email me at: Also follow me on Facebook: "Friends of Cockroft for OK State House", and on Twitter: @VoteCockroft27. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cockroft Seeks November School Board Elections

OKLAHOMA CITY – Seeking to increase voter participation, state Rep. Josh Cockroft has filed legislation that would place all local school board elections on the November general election ballot.
            “Under the current system, instead of electing school board members who represent the views of a majority of Oklahomans, we find school board members who represent the views of the establishment are elected through voter-turnout machines,” Cockroft said. “Little emphasis is put on these elections in odd times of the year; therefore our students suffer as a result. If we are really as committed to education as we say we are during campaign years, then this is an easy step to take.”
            Currently, school board elections are held on the second Tuesday in February or on the date of the presidential primary every fourth year.
            House Bill 1544 would place all school board elections on the second Tuesday of November in odd-numbered years and the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of any even-numbered year.
            The legislation also changes the terms of school board members so that every board member in Oklahoma serves a four-year term with elections staggered every other year. Currently school board members have terms of three, four, or five years, depending on the size of the school board.
            Cockroft noted growing support for moving school board elections to November, including a September 26, 2011 editorial in The Oklahoman  (“Moving school board elections might help counter voter apathy”) and a Journal Record column by Oklahoma City University law professor Andrew Spiropoulos (“Taking back control of our schools”).  Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has also endorsed the proposal.
            “If we want our schools to truly improve and thrive, we must do more to involve the entire community in their future,” Cockroft said. “Forcing school board candidates to appeal to a broad electorate instead of status-quo special-interest groups will result in better policy in each district and a better future for Oklahoma students.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cockroft Column: Income Tax Elimination Does Not Mean Property Tax Hikes

By now, some of you have probably heard about the recently released plan from the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and former Reagan economic adviser Arthur Laffer to eliminate the State income tax in Oklahoma. This issue has been under discussion for some time now, and I’m extremely pleased that it is now gaining traction. There will be much attention drawn to this issue during this legislative session. The plan shows the positive economic impact that Oklahoma would experience if the state’s progressive income tax were to be phased out in the next 10 years.

The plan claims that by phasing out the income tax in steps the state could incorporate the benefits of the resulting positive economic impact into the state budget, therefore not have to resort to tax increases of any kind to make up for the loss of revenue.

This point is especially important. I have found that the number one reason some fear the elimination of the income tax is due to their even stronger dislike of the property tax. Senior citizens have especially disliked the property tax because it threatens to force them out of the home they have worked all their lives to pay off.

One common argument is that these fears can be traced to the fact that Texas has high property tax rates. Whenever someone mentions the fact that Texas has no state income tax, the comment is almost always followed by someone else describing how Texas has an unfriendly property tax policy.

However, I strongly believe that a huge component of property tax reform and reducing property tax rates can be accomplished by eliminating the state income tax.

In Oklahoma, state government does not have a statewide property tax. Property taxes are collected from each county where it is mostly distributed to local schools and CareerTech, as well as a small percentage going to county government. Local governments also sometimes use the property tax to fund the creation of real property capital assets such as new buildings.

So you’re probably asking, “How does the elimination of the income tax assist with property tax reform?”

According to the OCPA study, the elimination of the state income tax would result in significant amounts of increased economic activity. This activity would increase the income of Oklahomans by nearly $50 billion. When this money is spent, sales tax collections would increase local government revenue by $3.5 billion. With the increased sales tax collections, fewer local governments would need to ask for property tax increases to build their real property assets.

In fact, it would be possible for policymakers to capture some of this increased revenue by creating a property tax rebate fund and channeling some of the new growth income into the fund. The fund could be used to rebate property tax income to counties and schools as a result of new decreased property tax rates.
In addition, State law requires that in order for there to be an increase in taxation at the State or local level, it must be brought before a vote of the people. With our economy in the shape it’s in, no reasonable community would wish a property tax hike upon themselves. 

When the government has the courage to use tax reform to allow its residents to keep their money, that money will be used to provide jobs and economic activity. This expands the tax base and makes even more tax reform possible. It’s a win-win situation: Our economy is given a boost, and State government continues to provide responsible decisions. 

Eliminating the income tax should be viewed as an important step in the effort to reduce property tax rates.
If you have questions or need help, contact my office at or (405)557-7349. You can find me on Facebook and @votecockroft27 on Twitter.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Governor Fallin Statement Regarding Boeing Relocations from Wichita to Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin today released the following statement regarding The Boeing Company’s decision to close the Boeing Defense, Space and Security facility in Wichita and to transfer engineering operations to Oklahoma City:

“This is a difficult time for Boeing employees who have been impacted by the decision to close the Wichita facility, and my heart goes out to those men and women. However, as with the recent relocation of Boeing staff from California to the Boeing Oklahoma City facility, our state stands ready to welcome all employees and their families who will now call Oklahoma home. Oklahoma City is a wonderful community and a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. I know Boeing employees will agree.”

“My administration has worked very closely with The Boeing Company to ensure that Oklahoma has both a competitive business climate and a high quality of life for any employees that might be located here. It’s a tribute to Oklahoma’s progress and forward momentum that we have been chosen as a relocation site.”