Cigarette Tax

Updated 8:58 p.m.

After more than three hours of discussions behind closed doors, the Oklahoma Senate made quick work of three bills that would help fund a teacher pay raise package and potentially avoid next week’s teacher walkout.

Senators passed three bills Wednesday night:

UPDATED: 11:14 p.m.

A revenue package that included several tax increases passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives Monday night, the first time a tax increase has passed the House in 28 years.

It was a late night for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in an effort to avoid a teacher and public employee walkout next week. After several failed attempts over the last 17 months to find funding for a teacher pay raise, Democrats and Republicans struck a deal over the weekend.

facebook.com/StepUpOklahoma

A new poll shows broad support for the Step Up Oklahoma budget plan that was introduced by local civic and business leaders.

The survey from SoonerPoll shows nearly 70 percent of likely Oklahoma voters approve of the budget fix to raise $780 million in revenue through increased taxes in cigarettes, oil and gas, fuel, wind power and income.

SoonerPoll founder Bill Shapard says this shows has broad based support.

As Oklahoma lawmakers deal with the current legislative session, they are also still holding a special session.

Legislative leaders are hoping to get bills heard in committee this week. The bills, crafted on recommendations from the business coalition Step Up Oklahoma, would raise taxes and create reforms in state government.

Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols says he’s hearing one main theme from lawmakers and constituents alike.

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Five weeks after calling a special session, Gov. Mary Fallin announced Monday that Republicans in the state House and Senate have reached a budget deal to fill a $215 million shortfall.

Updated Oct. 23 at 1:43 p.m. with Democratic response.

Fallin said the agreement would increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack of cigarettes, hike the motor fuel tax by 6 cents, and change the alcoholic beverage tax. It would also provide a $3,000 teacher pay raise, a $1,000 pay raise for some state employees, and restore the Earned Income Tax Credit.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics returns from the summer hiatus as KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about the call by Governor Fallin for a Special Session on September 25th after the unconstitutional ruling against the $1.50 fee per pack of cigarettes left a $215M hole in the budget, Oklahoma's junior Senator shows support for DACA after an announcement from President Trump to end the program and Congressman Jim Bridenstine gets bipartisan criticism over his appointment to head NASA.

Oklahoma Supreme Court Strikes Down Cigarette Fee

Aug 10, 2017
Flickr / Fried Dough

The Supreme Court of the State of Oklahoma has ruled that a fee on cigarettes approved during the 2017 legislative session is unconstitutional.

Flickr / Fried Dough

Oklahoma Supreme Court justices considered arguments Tuesday that challenged the constitutionality of four bills passed during this year’s legislative session.

The legal challenges throw into question millions of dollars of state revenue that fund government agencies.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about constitutional challenges against a state law to crackdown on drunk drivers and another to increase fees on a pack of cigarettes by a $1.50 and calls by the state's two biggest universities to ask for tuition increases in light of budget cuts from state lawmakers.

Brian Hardzinski / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Two of the largest tobacco companies in the U.S. are suing Oklahoma over the state’s new cigarette fee.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. filed a brief with the Oklahoma Supreme Court Wednesday, along with several Oklahoma companies and individuals.

In the brief, plaintiffs argue the $1.50-per-pack cigarette fee, or the “Smoking Cessation Act,” “flagrantly violates” the Oklahoma constitution.

The fee is scheduled to take effect in August, and would generate about $215 million per year for the state.

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