NORMAN — Gov. Mary Fallin said Saturday she will sign a bill into law that will allow Oklahomans with concealed handgun permits to carry their weapons in the open.
“I'm going to be signing that bill,” Fallin announced to 1,400 delegates at the Oklahoma Republican State Convention, drawing cheers and applause. “I've been waiting a long time.”
Oklahoma will become the 26th state to allow open carrying of handguns, she said.
“We believe it's a responsible piece of legislation that allows licensed gun owners to be able to open carry if they choose,” Fallin, a Republican elected governor in 2010, said afterward. “If they choose not to, they don't have to. It also has sufficient protections in it that will allow businesses, certainly government institutions, and those who don't want guns on their facilities to have those protections, too.”
Fallin said she will sign Senate Bill 1733 this week; the measure won final legislative approval last week in the Senate. The Senate voted 33-10 to pass it and the House of Representatives passed it 85-3 earlier this month.
The measure would take effect Nov. 1.
It would allow anyone possessing a license to carry a firearm under the Oklahoma Self Defense Act to carry the weapon either openly or concealed. It also would allow a property owner to openly carry a handgun on his or her land. No concealed carry permit would be required. Fallin also used the occasion to drum up support from the Republican delegates for a significant cut next year in the state's personal income tax rate.
Deeper tax cut
Fallin also used the occasion to push for a deeper cut in the state's personal income tax. Republican legislative budget negotiators are balking at a significant reduction, she said.
With dozens of members of the Republican-controlled Legislature present, Fallin said Republican volunteers worked hard to get GOP lawmakers in power at the statehouse, many of whom promised to cut or eliminate or personal income tax. For the first time in Oklahoma's history, Republicans control the Legislature and the governor's office.
“I'm pushing our Republican Party to keep a promise that we made to the voters and that is, pass a significant income tax reduction for our state to let people keep more of their hard-
Fallin, who proposed cutting the top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 3.5 percent, said she still is seeking to get the largest decrease possible. The failure of lawmakers to eliminate or reduce economic tax credits as well as delete personal income tax deductions and exemptions make it unlikely for that steep of a cut to occur in one of the state's largest sources of revenue.
She told delegates that Kansas legislators last week passed a measure that would put their state's top personal income tax lower than Oklahoma's top rate. The governor of Kansas is considering signing the measure, which would lower that state's top personal income tax rate from 6.45 percent to 4.9 percent.
“Other states are looking at income tax reductions,” Fallin said.
Fallin said budget negotiations will resume Monday. Lawmakers must approve a budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins July 1, by May 25. Deciding whether to cut the personal income tax rate will be a key part of the final $6.6 billion budget package.
House Democrats have said they are against a cut in the personal income tax rate, which provides about a third of the state's tax revenues. Senate Democrats have said they would not support any bond proposal if the personal income tax rate is cut.
State Treasurer Ken Miller, a former chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, said lawmakers should cut the personal income tax rate based on the same amount of reductions in spending or eliminating economic tax credits. Lawmakers should focus on funding core services of government “and nothing else,” he said.
“Pay for the tax cuts with spending cuts,” Miller said.
“Pay for it upfront.”
We believe it's a responsible piece of legislation that allows licensed gun owners to be able to open carry if they choose. ... It also has sufficient protections in it that will allow businesses, certainly government institutions, and those who don't want guns on their facilities to have those protections, too.”