Chickashanews.com

Business & Politics

May 10, 2010

Tax credits become a focus

— Another week down inside the state Capitol. May is well underway and only three weeks remain of the 2010 session.

There are several issues I’d like to update you on, so without further ado, here’s the latest from Oklahoma City.

HEALTHY LIVING

Legislation to make Oklahoma a healthier state through local efforts promoting personal responsibility is one step away from becoming law.

House Bill 2774 authorizes the State Department of Health to implement a rebate program to reimburse restaurant owners for a portion of the expenses incurred in complying with statutory requirements for constructing a designated smoking room if the restaurant converts to a completely smoke-free environment.

The restaurant program is purely voluntary and merely designed to help encourage restaurants to go completely smoke-free.

The measure also allows the State Department of Health to establish programs for the voluntary certification of communities and schools that promote wellness and health.

Under the bill, schools could obtain an official “healthy school” designation if they voluntarily provide better nutritional services and physical activities than those in place today.

I believe anything we can do to encourage Oklahomans to live healthier lives is important, as medical costs continue to soar. The best way to avoid those costs is living well.

   

OPEN CARRY

LAW PASSES

HURDLE

Legislation that would allow Oklahomans with a concealed carry license to openly carry their weapon has been sent to the governor.

House Bill 3354 would Oklahomans to openly carry a weapon if they have obtained a handgun license/concealed carry permit.

Detractors of bills like this say it will make our communities

less safe. I disagree. Concealed carry license holders have a proven track record of behaving responsibly.

State records show that nearly 36,000 concealed carry licenses were issued in 2009 and just 105 licenses were revoked that year.

Nearly 97,000 Oklahomans currently have a concealed carry permit.

Right now, about half of the states have similar open-carry laws as the one we’re proposing, so this is nothing radical. Rather, it’s just a way to enjoy the rights of the Second Amendment.

   

TAX CREDITS

A FOCUS

With a $1.2 billion shortfall this year, reviewing state tax credits is prudent. While some have provided little benefit, others should remain in place.

Several groups have argued for broad elimination of tax breaks, saying the state “gives away” close to $5.6 billion each year through various tax incentives, credits and reductions.

However, that “give away” figure includes your personal exemptions and standard or itemized deductions, which combined account for $824.4 million.

The “give away” figure also includes $145.3 million in exemptions on Social Security and retirement benefits.

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