Friday, November 17, 2017

Senate kills trucking exemption; end of Special Session today?


Yesterday, the State Senate defeated a measure (HB1074) that would have exempted the trucking industry from having to pay the new 1.25% sales tax on new vehicles that average citizens like you and me now have to pay. The tax came when the Legislature passed HB2433 at the end of the regular session in May, and the Supreme Court upheld it as constitutional after it received a legal challenge.

Supporters of HB1074 argued that the intent of the sales tax was for personal vehicles like cars, pickups, and vans, not tractor-trailers, and that this tax will hurt the trucking industry here, as under current exemptions many trucking companies register their vehicles in Oklahoma. Legislators claim that big trucking companies and other corporations like Walmart are now moving their truck registration from Oklahoma (where it was very inexpensive prior to HB2433) to elsewhere.

Allow me to point out the irony that taxing something more oftentimes results in getting less of what you want.

The House had passed HB1074 63-20, with only Democrats opposing, but the Senate voted 17-20, with 14 Republicans opposing and 17 Republicans supporting.

State Sen. Marty Quinn (R-Claremore) said this in opposition to the bill on the Senate floor: "What bothers me about this is that we don’t want to allow this burden to continue on a special group of corporations or businesses, but it’s going to be fine and dandy to leave that burden on the common man you and I represent."

Quinn is exactly right.

In other legislative news, it appears that the House and Senate may finish the Special Session today, as the Senate will take up the budget cut-and-reallocate measures that the House has passed. The plan cuts about $60M in spending (HB1019), raises about $48M in speeding up the GPT on some older wells (HB1085), and shifts around enough money in leftover funds, rainy day funds, and revolving funds (HB1019) to cover the rest of the $215M hole.

If the Senate passes these measures as expected, today should be the final day of this extended special session.

1 comments:

Tom Elmore said...

Since 1986, heavy commercial trucks and other diesel-fueled road users have paid three-cents-per-gallon LESS state fuel tax than auto (gasoline fueled) operators pay in Oklahoma.

According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, a standard, 5-axle semi operating at its maximum legal gross weight inflicts pavement damage statistically equivalent to 9,600 automobiles.

At my last survey, meanwhile, trucking paid less than 9.5 percent of tag and registration fees received by the state.

And so on.

Here's a quotation from the late Bobby Green - then ODOT director - in April, 1991 -- "The Department and the Federal Highway Administration believe the trucking industry should pay the costs of the damages its heavy trucks cause to the state's highways, roads and streets. The industry has never paid its fair share of such costs, leaving the lion's share to the average taxpaying motorists who are imperiled by sharing the roadways they support with the heavy trucks they must also support..."

"As a result of the continual increases in truck sizes and weights, as well as the phenomenal growth in the numbers of heavy trucks using these major routes (a 38% increase between 1980 and 1990), Oklahoma's highway facilities are deteriorating at a rate which exceeds our financial capacity to replace or even repair them."

And - apparently to further cement pretty-much absolute reliance on trucks, the brilliant and resourceful Oklahoma Department of Transportation continues to plot spinning off and destroying as much heritage railroad property as it can.