The state Board of Equalization met this past week to certify how much money the Legislature will have to appropriate for the Fiscal Year 2021 budget. The amount reported is $8.2 billion – $85.5 million, or 1%, less than was appropriated for FY2020.
We’ve known for a while the next fiscal year’s budget would be relatively flat with the slowdown in the price of oil and gas and other revenue such as personal income tax and sales and use taxes coming in slightly below projections. The FY20 budget was the highest in state history. To flatten out at this mark is not a cause for concern. We don’t anticipate having to cut any core service, and we can again prioritize funding for education, transportation, health care and public safety services.
Also last week, we had FFA Day at the Capitol. Students from across the state that are part of an FFA chapter visited their legislators and many stayed to be recognized from the House Floor. FFA is such a great program, teaching leadership skills to students who plan to have a future career in the field of agriculture. For some of the students from rural chapters, this is their first time to visit the Capitol. It’s always an honor to get to recognize them and show them around the People’s House.
This past week was a busy one for committee meetings. The week ahead will be every bit as busy if not more so with all bills having to be passed out of committee by the deadline of Feb. 27. We’re still only hearing a few bills each day on the House floor, but that will change dramatically over the coming few weeks as we approach our third-reading deadline when all House bills have to be transferred to the Senate and vice versa.
Our House Public Safety Committee heard 30 bills on Thursday. One of them was House Bill 3357, which sought to repeal Constitutional Carry legislation that passed last year and was signed into law by the governor. This repealer bill went down hard with a vote of 1-12 and no questions asked by committee members and no debate. Seems like the belief is that Oklahomans let their views on the Second Amendment be heard by their lawmakers, and they are in favor of this law that allows the open carry of firearms by anyone of legal age or status without a requirement to receive a separate permit or training from the state.
State law still calls for background checks, prohibits felons, those adjudicated with mental illness or those with domestic violence convictions from carrying a firearm, and leaves in place private property and school campus rights to prohibit carry at the owner or administrator’s discretion.
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