Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cockroft Column, March 4, 2013

The first legislative deadline has cut down the number of bills drastically. Some of the major bills that remain alive include the Oklahoma Firearms Freedom Act, a bill to allow for CLEET-certified school employees, two workers’ compensation reform bills, three income tax cut bills, and a state question that would ask voters whether or not to take out a $200 million bond issue to pay for Capitol repairs.

The two workers’ compensation bills would make large-scale changes to our burdensome workers’ compensation system. Only one other state has a judicial workers’ compensation system. Senate Bill 1062 would replace our current judicial system with an administrative system. The bill has been approved by the Senate and awaits the review of House lawmakers. House Speaker T.W. Shannon has said he likes the bill’s intent, but wants to ensure that injured workers are adequately addressed by the bill. House Bill 2201would privatize CompSource Oklahoma.

The three tax cut bills would drop the top personal incom rate from 5.25 percent to either 4.99 percent, 5 percent, or 4.75 percent. Ultimately, the exact size of the cut will be determined by budget negotiations. I still want to make sure that if there is an income tax cut, then it is done responsibly. Many entities in a rural area such as my District could drastically be affected if cuts are implemented. I will watch this issue very closely and will address it further in the near future.  

I personally am against using a bond issue to repair the Capitol, but do not necessarily reject the idea of letting voters decide. In the meantime, we will be looking to pay for Capitol repairs bit by bit each year through appropriations.

I also want to note that my bill to link school board election dates to municipal elections in April remains alive. House Bill 1887 would improve voter turnout and reduce election costs.

Please provide any feedback and thoughts that you may have on policy. Please never hesitate to contact me at (405) 788-9160 or Follow me on Facebook: Representative Josh Cockroft.

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