Raucous week expected at Oklahoma's state Capitol

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: May 17, 2013 at 11:36 pm •  Published: May 20, 2013
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A triumphant ending to this year's session may transform into a final week of shenanigans, last-minute deals and reopening sore wounds.

Instead of basking in their accomplishments, GOP legislative leaders are split on several issues they intend to take on this week:

• Whether to attempt a veto override on a House measure concerning state pension plans;

• Whether to eliminate common core curriculum standards legislators approved three years ago for public schools;

• How to deal with two measures calling for providing money to two state museums.

Pension bill, budget

House Republicans will discuss Monday during their weekly closed caucus meeting whether to attempt to override Fallin's veto of House Bill 2077, which would have given some employees hired in 2014 the option of a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k) plan, instead of the defined benefit plan, which is a traditional pension.

“There are members who want to,” said House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton.

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said he doesn't support a veto override attempt.

“We've had a great session,” he said. “You'd hate to end session on a negative note.”

It's been nearly four weeks since Gov. Mary Fallin, Bingman and Shannon announced agreements on three key issues: Reducing the state's top personal income tax rate in the 2015 calendar year and a further reduction the next year if state tax revenues don't dip; overhauling the workers' compensation system, and developing a plan for the state to sell unneeded property and underused buildings as well as an eight-year plan on the needs of state buildings. All three items have been passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Fallin.

With that heavy lifting out of the way, lawmakers and the governor focused on finishing a $7.1 billion budget agreement for the 2014 fiscal year, which starts July 1. They announced a budget accord May 2, one of the earliest dates in several years for a budget agreement to be reached.

Legislators were on track to complete their work as early as May 17, but legislative activity slowed down.

Common core

A budget spending-limit bill for the state Education Department was delayed a couple of times as lawmakers concerned about the common core curriculum wanted to eliminate funding to implement the curriculum.

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