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Legislation filing deadline reached; House members prepare for session  

Sen. Mike Mazzei and Rep. Earl Sears filed legislation Thursday for the 2015 session to reform existing state subsidies for all new Oklahoma industrial wind facilities. The legislation, which would take effect January 1, 2016, would establish sensible laws to regulate industrial wind companies and oversee future development in Oklahoma. "Tax credits are designed to help us create a competitive environment that results in job growth and economic development,” said Mazzei, R-Tulsa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “In order for us to be good stewards of our limited state resources, it is critical to reassess those subsidies to determine if the benefit justifies the cost. Providing handouts to wind developers for simply operating in Oklahoma is not a sensible approach and should be troubling to our citizens.” “I support tax incentives, however the tax credits for wind power are overly generous and must be modified for all new wind power development projects in the state,” said Sears, R-Bartlesville, House Appropriations and Budget Chair. “The cost of these wind subsidies is mounting at an alarming rate, and if we do not address the policies now, Oklahoma will suffer the consequences.”

Credit:  Staff Reports | Norman Transcript | January 22, 2015 | www.normantranscript.com ~~

OKLAHOMA CITY – At the end of Thursday’s legislation filing deadline, there were 1,219 bills and 26 joint resolutions filed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for the First Session of the 55th Legislature.

“After months of meeting with constituents and studying issues in House committees, members have filed their bills and are ready to begin the debate about how we move Oklahoma forward,” said House Speaker Jeffrey W. Hickman, R-Fairview. “The House of Representatives stands ready to ensure Oklahoma remains on the path of economic growth by upholding the conservative values of the citizens of our great state.”

Last year, the House Chief Clerk’s Office reported that 1,197 bills and 23 joint resolutions were filed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for the 2014 legislative session.

The House will reconvene on Feb 2 at noon to continue the First Session of the 55th Legislature.

Some interesting bills filed recently include:

• Senate bill to ensure DUI offenders have auto insurance

Sen. Ron Sharp has filed legislation to address Oklahoma’s high number of uninsured motorists especially those with DUI convictions. Senate Bill 260 would require an individual convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) to have valid auto insurance on file with the Department of Public Safety for at least one year after their conviction. 


“We have a problem with people convicted of DUIs having no auto insurance. They have found a loophole in our law whereby they can buy auto insurance to get their tag renewed and then cancel the policy after one month. Others simply go purchase a new car and auto insurance under another name,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “Hopefully, this bill will prevent DUI offenders from sneaking around the law and ensure they get and maintain the auto insurance that they are legally required to have.” 


Under SB 260, the offender’s insurance company would be responsible for keeping an SR 22 Form on file with DPS whether the individual was convicted in Oklahoma or another state. If the individual drops their coverage, the insurance company will then send an SR 29 Form to DPS. 


If DPS is notified by the insurance company that the individual has cancelled their insurance policy, the agency will then notify the person that he or she has 10 days to demonstrate proof of continuous vehicle insurance or request a hearing to demonstrate insurance coverage. If the individual cannot show proof of insurance for the vehicle in question, DPS will revoke their registration and suspend their driving privileges. The suspension or revocation will continue until the individual provides satisfactory proof of insurance to DPS. The individual will also be required to pay a reinstatement fee of $100. If someone’s registration is revoked within one year of a prior revocation a $300 reinstatement fee must be paid. 


The measure makes it unlawful for a vehicle that’s registration has been revoked for lack of insurance to be reregistered in the name of the owner, the owner’s spouse, parent or child, or any member of the same household until the owner obtains insurance. 


If an owner of a vehicle, registered or required to be registered in Oklahoma, is found driving or allowing someone else to drive the vehicle without insurance and makes a false certification concerning having insurance then he or she will be guilty of a misdemeanor. Any person, firm or corporation that gives false information to DPS concerning someone’s vehicle insurance will also be guilty of a misdemeanor.

• Sen. Bice authors measure to allow sale of cold high-point beer

State Sen. Stephanie Bice has filed legislation that would allow retail liquor stores to sell refrigerated high-point beer in Oklahoma. Bice said this change is something Oklahomans have increasingly been asking for.

“I’ve heard from scores of Oklahomans from all parts of the state who are really supportive of this effort to modernize state law to enable the sale of cold high-point beer in liquor stores,” said Bice, R-Oklahoma City. “The response I’ve received has been overwhelmingly in favor of this legislation.”

Currently, high-point beer can only be sold at room temperature and only in liquor retail stores. Consumers would still have to purchase high-point beer at liquor stores, but under Senate Bill 383, the stores would have the option to use refrigeration.

Bice explained making refrigeration optional could be done with a statutory change and is something many other states already allow.

“One advantage is that it would increase the shelf-life of this product,” Bice said.

Becky McCray, whose family owns Allen’s Liquor Store in Alva, Oklahoma, was thrilled when she heard about the proposed legislation.

“The building the store is in was constructed in 1975 and at that time everyone was hopeful coolers would be legal soon. Obviously that didn’t happen,” McCray said. “We get asked for cold beer all the time by customers from Kansas and other states. We’re almost ashamed to explain it’s still illegal in Oklahoma.”

SB 383 will be considered after the 2015 legislative session reconvenes on February 2.

• Mazzei and Sears to introduce legislation to reform new wind farm subsidies

Sen. Mike Mazzei and Rep. Earl Sears filed legislation Thursday for the 2015 session to reform existing state subsidies for all new Oklahoma industrial wind facilities. The legislation, which would take effect January 1, 2016, would establish sensible laws to regulate industrial wind companies and oversee future development in Oklahoma.

“Tax credits are designed to help us create a competitive environment that results in job growth and economic development,” said Mazzei, R-Tulsa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “In order for us to be good stewards of our limited state resources, it is critical to reassess those subsidies to determine if the benefit justifies the cost. Providing handouts to wind developers for simply operating in Oklahoma is not a sensible approach and should be troubling to our citizens.”

“I support tax incentives, however the tax credits for wind power are overly generous and must be modified for all new wind power development projects in the state,” said Sears, R-Bartlesville, House Appropriations and Budget Chair. “The cost of these wind subsidies is mounting at an alarming rate, and if we do not address the policies now, Oklahoma will suffer the consequences.”

The proposed legislation will gradually reduce the amount of Zero Emissions Tax credits for new industrial wind facilities from a half-cent per kilowatt hour for energy produced in the first year to one-tenth of a cent by the fifth year, and require approval by the legislature to reauthorize in 2020. (SB 501)

Additionally, it would establish a $6 million statewide cap for the Zero Emissions Tax credit. (SB 501), and eliminate the ability of industrial wind facilities to use the investment/new jobs tax credit, preventing the possibility of double dipping by those who use the zero-emission tax credit. (SB 502)

The bill would also adjust the state’s ad valorem (property tax) policy to remove a special exemption for wind manufacturing that releases the industry from the jobs creation requirement every other industry must meet. (SB 498)

Mazzei and Sears acknowledged anticipated significant revenue reductions for the coming fiscal year, while also facing serious needs for additional resources in core government services. Currently, wind developers qualify for three major subsidies: Zero Emissions Tax Credits, Investment Tax Credits and Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions.

According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC), the state’s Ad Valorem reimbursement cost was more than $41 million in 2002. By 2013, the amount increased to more than $64 million, with approximately half resulting from Ad Valorem exemptions for wind farms.

“To protect entities that depend upon local property tax collections, Oklahoma law requires the state to reimburse counties for the Ad Valorem exemption. Those payments have increased at an alarming rate, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to meet that obligation without compromising funding for other critical services,” Mazzei said.

Source:  Staff Reports | Norman Transcript | January 22, 2015 | www.normantranscript.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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