OK House of Representatives Releases List of 2021 Interim Studies Proposals

The Oklahoma State House of Representatives submitted 135 interim studies proposals before the June 25, 2021 deadline. That is nearly double the amount requested during 2020. As expected, several requests relate directly to the state’s energy industry.

Rep. Tammy Townley filed 21-080 to assist in the development of a comprehensive, short term and long-term goal to help the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority (OSIDA) in reaching its full potential as a competitive industrial authority.

Rep. Garry Mize wants an interim study (21-086) to review the impacts of pole attachment rates charged by electric cooperatives on how broadband is expanded. He believes high costs have been associated with pole attachments charge by coops that are hindering broadband deployment. Other states have tackled the rates charged by electric coops for pole attachments and a federal formula also exists.

Rep. Merleyn Bell filed 21-130 regarding end-to-end clean renewable energy. This industry utilizes wind turbine blades, solar panels and other innovative materials but there is minimal recycling effort. She is seeking insight from material recycling companies on how Oklahoma can encourage cleaner renewable energy production from start to finish.

Three requests focus on the state’s transportation sector. Rep. Kyle Hilbert of Tulsa filed a request to eliminate deficient county bridges by the year 2035. His interim study request 21-119 proposes a deep dive into the Legislative Office of Financial Transparency (LOFT) Report on County Improvements for Roads & Bridges (CIRB) Program to determine if there is a path to shoring up the county bridge problem in a much shorter deadline.

Rep. Jim Grego wants an interim study to discuss opening more on/off ramps in order to provide better access to the Indian Nation Turnpike in eastern Oklahoma (21-008).

Rep. Eddy Dempsey, who represents constituents in LeFlore and McCurtain counties, filed 21-128. He is specifically seeking information on the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s District 2 eight-year plan including how many projects have been canceled and postponed and other projects that were moved up in the plan. District 2 covers southeastern Oklahoma.

Two requests focus on the same subject matter – energy tax protests. The first, 21-009 filed by Rep. Carl Newton, requests a study into why schools are suffering due to not getting their ad valorem tax from the gas/oil/wind industry. The second, 21-098 filed by Rep. John Pfeiffer, aims to find a solution for the wind ad valorem tax that funds local schools when the funding is protested. His goal is to bring all the players to the table to to come up with a legislative solution so schools that depend on the wind ad valorem tax dollars can pay the bills when the wind energy companies protest paying these taxes.

Four interim study requests are related to agricultural activities. Rep. Carl Newton filed 21-017 to clarify and clean up the Farm Tax. He also filed 21-019 to find common ground in a discussion involving farmers’ use of spraying pesticides while avoiding lawsuits from marijuana growers.

Reps. Jim Grego, Carl Newton and Casey Murdock teamed up to file 21-020 regarding the agriculture sales tax exemption. This study would examine whether the Oklahoma Tax Commission has the authority to require Schedule F to be a requirement to receive tax exemption status pursuant to a recent OTC ruling.

An examination of agribusiness and existing rural economic development tax incentive programs will be discussed if Rep. Trey Caldwell’s interim study 21-077 receives the greenlight. He wants to review the feasibility of implementing a pooled financing incentive program similar to the Georgia system.

Others of interest include:

21-001 Illegal foreign land acquisition in Oklahoma filed by Rep. Anthony Moore

21-004  Kevin McDugle wants to discover the top five reasons that businesses relocate to Oklahoma and the top five reasons why the choose to leave the state

House Speaker Charles McCall will consider each requested interim study and announce approvals with committee assignments by Friday, July 23.

The Oklahoma State Senate’s interim studies requests have not yet been published. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat is set to announce committee assignments for the study requests by no later than July 2. Each standing committee chair will decide whether a particular study will be heard. Senators are required to complete their studies by November 5. OK Energy Today will publish the Senate list when it becomes available.

A link for the complete list of 2021 House Interim Studies can be found here.