2010 Legislative Roundup

The session of 2010 is now over and here is my report on how the industry was affected by proposed legislation and legislation that passed and was signed into law.

As you may remember we had many bills this session that were designed to slow us down on the highways and turnpikes, keep us in the right hand lane, and keep us from having the right to do our jobs as we need to do them. A lot of these bills were spurn from the horrific wreck on I-44 last year that killed 10 people. Cooler heads prevailed at the capitol and we were able to convince legislators that these bills didn’t need to pass.

Legislators such as Representative T.W. Shannon and Representative Danny Morgan were able to convince members of their caucuses that these types of bills hinder our ability to do business in this state.

One huge issue that came up during the session was the intangible property tax issue. This law has been on the books since 1968 and a lot of it hadn’t been enforced until this was revealed in a lawsuit last year. This would result in most businesses paying this tax on their customer lists, logos, and preparatory software. This would have meant several hundred million dollars in extra taxes and the Tax Commission had the right to go back and charge these taxes for the past three years. We solved this by passing a bill that would charge a small fee that was equal to the current tax paid on intangible items. It is called a fee inlieuof a tax. We will have to address this issue next session and see how we can permanently fix this situation.

We were all pretty well held hostage by the budget. We were hoping that the legislature and the Governor would do the right thing and solve the budget crunch by cutting the size of government. This, of course, didn’t happen. Most of the government short fall was made up by revenue enhancement. This means a lot of fees went up for the people and businesses of Oklahoma. The trucking industry will be affected by the doubling of over-weight fees. This is supposed to raise $16 million dollars for our state funds. With thesuperloadfee going from $250 to $500, I expect to see these types of loads disappear from our highways. This fee will be one of the highest in the nation per mile.

One of the worst revenue enhancement items in the new budget, that will supposedly raise $78 million dollars, is the 1% charge on medical claims. This will be a burden on Oklahoma businesses that we don’t need at this time. If you have questions on any of this legislation, don’t hesitate to call me at the OTA office.