Leslie Osborn

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.

LLUDO / FLICKR (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a $6.8 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1st.

By a vote of 57-42 just hours before the end of the legislative session today, the Oklahoma House passed Senate Bill 860, which cuts most state agency budgets by about five percent.

Supporters say the plan protects core services and closes a projected $878 million budget hole.

Mustang Republican Rep. Leslie Osborn:

It was a wild day at the state capitol as lawmakers tried to find new sources of revenue to fill the nearly $900 million budget shortfall and fund teacher pay raises. But, with just three days left to find new money, they’re likely back at the drawing board.

Starting about noon, there were rumors that a budget agreement had been reached between the Republican leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate and Governor Mary Fallin. The scheduled an announcement for 2:30 p.m.

okhouse.gov

Lawmakers are slowly working on measures to increase revenue.

House Appropriations Chair Leslie Osborn says over the next three weeks bills will be coming out of the Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget, also known as J-CAB.

The Mustang Republican says most of the measures appear to be getting support from both sides.

okhouse.gov

A $1.50 tax increase on cigarettes is getting moved to later in the legislative session at the State Capitol.

Representative Leslie Osborn says the tax increase will go before lawmakers on what's known as a J-CAB measure rather than a regular bill.

"We kind of got bogged down with a lot of other policy issues. We need to work both sides of the aisle, make sure we have the support. I expect we will because this one polls 76% across the state to pass with Ds and Rs."

Jacob McCleland / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

The Oklahoma House of Representatives took a step toward becoming Real ID compliant Thursday. The House voted 78 to 18 to approve the measure that allows the state to produce identification that meets federal security guidelines under the federal 2005 Real ID Act.

Oklahomans must use a Real ID-compliant identification or passport by January 2018 to board a commercial airline flight, or by June of this year to enter federal facilities.

State Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, authored the bill. She says compliance is way overdue.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

State Representative Leslie Osborn is the new chair of the powerful House Appropriations and Budget Committee, an influential position that gives her bills extra weight. StateImpact talked to Osborn about legislation she’s pushing to increase mining fees, and to explore the sale of the Grand River Dam Authority.

GRDA IN THE CROSSHAIRS

A bill to get Oklahoma in compliance with the Federal Real ID Act moves on to the full House for consideration.

Rep. Leslie Osborn says House Bill 1845 creates a bifurcated system, meaning Oklahomans will have an option of getting a license which meets the standards of Homeland Security, or...

Oklahoma Lawmakers Grapple With Budget Shortfall

Jan 25, 2017
Dave Newman / Shutterstock

When Oklahoma's legislature reconvenes in a few weeks, lawmakers will have plenty to deal with. Most pressing on the agenda is a $900 million budget shortfall.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is exploring the possibility of making changes to the sales tax code by eliminating some exemptions in order to meet the budgetary demands. 

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oil prices are on the rebound, which should eventually generate revenue and help Oklahoma’s state budget situation. Still, another budget hole — that could be as large as $600 million — will likely have to be filled during the 2017 legislative session. One emerging idea that could put an extra billion dollars in state coffers: Selling the Grand River Dam Authority.

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