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Oklahoma lawmakers to take up familiar topics

Nearly 2,500 measures have been filed for the Oklahoma Legislature's upcoming session, which starts next month.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: January 18, 2013 at 10:10 pm •  Published: January 19, 2013

Familiar issues such as lowering the state's personal income tax rate, changing the workers' compensation system and deciding when life begins greet lawmakers during this year's session.

Legislators are digging up older proposals, as well, such as seeking to exempt guns and ammunition made in Oklahoma from federal regulations and banning dog breeds.

One idea shows just how much Oklahoma lawmakers like guns, which are being scrutinized on the federal level.

A legislator wants to create a sales tax holiday for guns and ammo one weekend in September.

Those and many more are among the 2,378 bills and 77 joint resolutions filed by Thursday's deadline for the first session of the 54th Oklahoma Legislature. The bills do not include appropriation measures, which under Senate rules are not subject to the same deadlines.

By the deadline, 1,119 bills and 34 joint resolutions were filed in the Senate and 1,259 bills and 43 joint resolutions in the House of Representatives.

Usually, about 20 percent of the filed measures make it into law. Last year, the governor acted on about 400 measures.

About 200 more bills were filed this year compared with two years ago, the start of the 53rd Legislature, when 2,137 bills and 85 joint resolutions were filed.

The session starts Feb. 4 and is scheduled to run through the last Friday in May. Lawmakers could adjourn earlier.

Gun-related measures

Oklahoma would have a Second Amendment Sales Tax Holiday under House Bill 1312 by Rep. John Enns, R-Enid. The measure would exempt guns, ammunition and hunting supplies from sales tax during transactions taking place the first weekend of September.

It's among more than 20 measures dealing with guns. HB 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.

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