Oklahoma governor leaning toward seeking funds for Capitol

Money to repair the crumbling facade of the nearly 100-year-old building is being considered by the governor. She will present her budget request to lawmakers Monday.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: February 2, 2013 at 11:57 pm •  Published: February 3, 2013
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Other areas

The Capitol is one of several areas that lawmakers will be asked to provide money for this year. Money or a bond issue again will be sought for a popular culture museum in downtown Tulsa and to help finish the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in downtown Oklahoma City.

Other familiar issues from last year will be back again for consideration. They include lowering the state's personal income tax rate, changing the workers' compensation system and deciding when life begins.

Those and many more are among the 2,378 bills and 77 joint resolutions filed by lawmakers. Usually, about 20 percent of the filed measures make it into law. Last year, the governor acted on about 400 measures.

The session is scheduled to run through the last Friday in May. Lawmakers could adjourn earlier.

Lawmakers will take up more than 20 measures dealing with guns. House Bill 1059, by Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, would allow the carrying of firearms into government meetings but not into governmental buildings that have metal detectors and security officers, such as the Capitol.

Senate Bill 161, by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, would provide for the manufacturing or assembly of firearms, firearms accessories or ammunition in the state. But the items cannot be sold or taken outside the state. Lawmakers passed a similar measure in 2010, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Brad Henry because he said it would have exempted those gun buyers from federal criminal background checks and other regulatory safeguards.

SB 548, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, would protect the right of Oklahomans to keep and bear arms by opposing laws and regulations from the federal government intended to take them away. He's also proposed SB 552 which would allow any Oklahoman at least 21 years old and who is not a felon to keep a handgun in their vehicle for self-defense purposes.

The GOP-controlled Legislature, which has made changes in workers' compensation a priority since gaining control of both chambers in 2008, will take up a measure proposing an overhaul of the system. HB 1362 by Rep. Arthur Hulbert, R-Fort Gibson, would change the system from a judicial system to an administrative one.

Another attempt will be made to pass personhood legislation, which holds that individual rights and constitutional protections begin at conception. HB 1029, by Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, is similar to last year's measure that caused an emotional battle in the House before it failed to get a vote on the floor. Reynolds also last year backed a resolution with the same language, but the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled it was unconstitutional because it would interfere with a woman's right to an abortion.

Among bids to lower the state's personal income tax is SB 240, which would replace Oklahoma's income tax structure with a flat tax of 2.95 percent. House Democrats already have come out in opposition, saying it would lower taxes for the rich while raising them for everyone else.

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