Scott Inman

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma lawmakers have struggled for months to agree on a formula to patch a nearly $900 million budget hole and sign off on a plan that funds state agencies. To help pay for the budget plan, lawmakers are considering ways to squeeze more from taxes on oil and gas production, an option that has divided politicians and one of the state’s biggest industries.

In a late-night committee meeting on Monday, lawmakers passed a measure that raises the gross production tax rate from one percent to four percent, but only on a small, select group of oil wells.

Rep. Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston), who is carrying House Bill 2429, says it will bring about $95 million in to the state. The bill would only affect about 5,790 wells drilled between July 2011 and July 2015.

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.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The 2017 legislative session is beyond the halfway point and the clock is ticking on lawmakers who have until the end of May to set the state’s budget and plug an $870 million funding hole. Legislators say every option is on the table, including one with growing public support: Increasing taxes on oil and gas.

First, it was state Democrats like minority leader Scott Inman, who have long argued Oklahoma’s taxes are too generous for oil and gas companies.

okhouse.gov

The Speaker-elect of the Oklahoma House of Representatives has announced plans for an investigation into a payment to settle a sexual harassment complaint by a former legislative assistant.

Updated 1:23 p.m.

State Rep. Charles McCall, R-Atoka, announced Thursday his first action after officially becoming Speaker will be to authorize an investigation into the wrongful termination settlement agreement paid to Hollie Bishop, who was fired in November 2015 after less than a year working for state Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about President-elect Donald Trump's pick of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency as well as a look at possible suggestions to replace Pruitt should he get Senate approval, the heads of the Chickasaw and Cherokee tribes are endorsing Governor Mary Fallin for Secretary of the Interior and State House Minority Leader Scott Inman is considering a run for Governor in 2018.

Flickr / KOMUnews

Mid-year cuts to public schools and other state services, along with a looming budget crisis, helped draw a record number of political newcomers to races for state House and Senate offices in Oklahoma this year.

Legislators will soon learn if the same general discontent exists among voters, who head to the polls June 28 for Oklahoma's statewide primary election. Every Oklahoma senator up for re-election drew at least one opponent this year, while only 14 current House members went unopposed as a record number of candidates filed for office.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

The Oklahoma House and Senate each passed separate resolutions on Monday approving the newly developed education standards in math and English language arts.

Discussions were heated over the proposed academic standards and both resolutions will require more work.

Representative Scott Inman debated relentlessly to pass the standards as they are, so that they could be implemented as quickly as possible. He says time is of the essence.

But Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman said there are a few mistakes within them that need to be addressed first.

The clear purpose of Oklahoma's Open Records Act is to ensure citizens can review government records to help them exercise their "inherent political power." But when it comes to the Oklahoma Legislature - not so much.

Three of the state's top four legislative leaders - Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman and Senate Minority Leader John Sparks - all refused to disclose their weekly schedules and emails requested by The Associated Press.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The power and frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma have been increasing, but the Legislature has done little to try to curb the temblors that scientists have linked to the underground disposal of oil and gas drilling wastewater.

That could change this year, as angry residents have been increasingly turning up at town hall meetings and legislative hearings to call for state leaders to address the problem.

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