Capital City: OKC approves tax incentives for Amazon
First up -- The state Senate plans to vote on permitless carry today and is expected to pass the measure that would allow Oklahomans to carry a gun without a state permit. Gov. Kevin Stitt is expected to sign the bill, as early as this week.
The House passed permitless carry last week.
Why is permitless carry on the fast track? "Last year we passed this legislation and the previous governor vetoed it," Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said Monday. "We made some commitments that we were going to right that wrong."
NOTE - Some readers may have received Tuesday's newsletter today. Sorry of the mix up.
OKC APPROVES AMAZON INCENTIVES ... On a vote of 5-2, the Oklahoma City council gave final approval to $1 million in job-creation incentives and agreed to spend up to $700,000 on road and other improvements for Amazon's future distribution center near the airport.
Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, who had opposed the deal for months, said taxpayers would be on the hook for interest on the money borrowed and given to Amazon.
“In my opinion this is Santa Clausian economics," he said, "thinking that we’re making something happen that wasn’t going to happen anyway.”
GAS STATION ... Shadid also voted against approval for an OnCue gas station in Oklahoma City's urban core. The rest of the council voted in favor, despite protests from some area residents that the chain is a poor fit with surrounding historic neighborhoods.
STITT MAKES P&P BOARD APPOINTMENTS ... Gov. Kevin Stitt announced three appointments to the state’s Pardon and Parole Board on Tuesday: Kelly E. Doyle, Adam Luck and Robert Gilliland, who each will be first-time members on the five-person board.
You can read my story on the appointments and what it means for Stitt's goal to see more inmate requests make it to his desk.
Earlier this month, Kevin Armstrong, board president for Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), told me that, “Governor Stitt can do more for criminal justice reform by himself by who he appoints to the Pardon and Parole Board than almost anything else." Here's why.
MARIJUANA AGENCY FOCUSED ON CARDS ... The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has temporarily closed its customer service center to free up more staff to respond to the high volume of applications for medical marijuana cards, reports the Associated Press.
The number of applications received per week rose from 1,200 in September to around 5,000 in February, agency officials said. The agency's policy requires a response to emails, requests and applications within 14 calendar days.
OIL AND GAS BILLS ADVANCE ... Several bills seeking to address issues related to the ongoing development of Oklahoma’s shale fields advanced Tuesday in House and Senate committee meetings at the Capitol, including House Bill 1379 by Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, which would requiring horizontal well operators to avoid creating pollution, production problems or equipment damage to previously drilled and producing vertical wells.
KINDERGARTEN CUTOFF CHANGE ADVANCES ... A Senate education committee voted Tuesday to move up Oklahoma’s kindergarten and prekindergarten cutoff date by one month, which would be one of the earliest dates in the country.
Senate Bill 11 would require children to be 5 years old by Aug. 1 to attend kindergarten — and 4 years old for prekindergarten— rather than by the current cutoff date of Sept. 1.
SENTENCING BILL ADVANCES IN HOUSE ... A bill that would affect the criminal sentences of hundreds of people convicted of nonviolent offenses in Oklahoma easily cleared a House committee Tuesday and headed to the full House. House Bill 1269 would apply sentencing reform changes laid out in State Question 780 to offenders who were convicted before the law took effect. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill 14-3.
EPIC UNDER INVESTIGATION ... The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says it is once again investigating Epic Charter Schools, reports the Tulsa World.
“There are no additional details to release, as this is an active investigation,” said Beth Green, an assistant special agent in charge at OSBI.
YOUTH GUN VIOLENCE .... The Frontier analyzed data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Health to determine how many youth age 17 and younger had been injured or killed by firearms.
From The Frontier: "Dozens of children are injured or killed by firearms each year, but no single state agency keep track of them all. Ask agencies how many children are hurt by firearms and no one knows.
"The state’s health department tracks firearm deaths, but has no programs to try to prevent them. State leaders say there are two main reasons for the lack of prevention programs — politics and a lack of funding."
Also from The Frontier's story: "Oklahoma’s Child Death Review Board issues recommendations to the Legislature and state agencies each year. The board once made firearm deaths a priority, but despite the increase of fatal shootings, the agency has made no mention of the issue in its annual recommendations for more than a decade."
TALIHINA VETERANS CENTER UPDATE ... An Oklahoma House of Representatives committee threw Talihina and its state veterans center a lifeline Tuesday by voting to stop closure of the facility, reports the Tulsa World.
House Bill 1149, by Rep. Jim Grego, R-Talihina, repeals legislation enacted a year ago that would shutter the 98-year-old facility and replace it with a $100 million facility in Sallisaw.
“We wouldn’t hesitate as a state if a company came to us and said it was going to put 250 high-quality jobs in this poverty-stricken area,” said Grego. “We have all kinds of incentives to promote them.
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