Shoppers in places bordering Oregon have an incentive to cross the state line: Oregon has no sales tax. For a time, Oklahoma shoppers had an incentive to cross into Texas during the back-to-school buying season: Texas had a sales tax holiday and Oklahoma didn't.
Eliminating the sales tax isn't feasible here. We did match Texas in starting a sales tax holiday. What Oklahoma hadn't done until 2013 is repeal an antiquated law designed to protect small retailers from predatory pricing. State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, sponsored the repeal. The law took effect Nov. 1, in time for the Thanksgiving “Black Friday” sales.
State law prohibited pricing products at less than 6 percent over what a retailer paid. On the books since before 1950, the law arose in a time when national chains such as Walmart and Best Buy didn't dominate retailing — not to mention the Internet. Predatory pricing allowed a retailer to sell items at below cost and force competitors to either do the same or cease operations.
A modern effect of the law, however, was to prevent putting items on sale at the same price in Oklahoma as those items cost in states without such a law. No more. Holt's legislation removes this arbitrary and antiquated barrier to competition. Any law that sends Oklahoma shoppers to another state is one that's due for review. The repeal doesn't apply to fuel, pharmaceuticals and groceries. Pretty much everything else can legally be sold at a lower markup than before.
We don't know how much the pricing law cost the state, but it's clear that the effect on retailers has been shared by the state itself: When a sale is lost, so is the sales tax paid on the item.
Oregon, by the way, needs to jettison an antiquated law of its own. The state still prohibits self-service gasoline stations.