The Oklahoma House of Representatives Veterans Caucus elected Army veteran Rep. Ty Burns, R-Pawnee, as the new House chair for the next legislative session. Members also elected Rep. Collin Duel, R-Guthrie, as the House vice chair. "It's a privilege to support the men and women in our state Legislature who have bravely served in our nation's defense and to represent the needs of our fellow veterans in Oklahoma," Burns said. "I want to thank Representative Steagall for his leadership for the past five years. As the newly elected Chair of the Oklahoma House Veterans Caucus, I am committed to promoting policies recognizing our veterans' and their families' sacrifices. Together, we will work tirelessly to ensure their voices are heard and their needs are met." "I am honored that my colleagues have placed their trust and confidence in me by electing me as the Vice Chair of the Oklahoma House Veterans Caucus," said Duel, who is an Army Ranger. "It is not only our duty but also a privilege to support our veterans, and I hold this responsibility in the highest regard. Through this caucus, we can better serve the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our state and nation." Current Chair Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, who served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and the Oklahoma Air National Guard, has been chair of the caucus since 2019 and offered his congratulations to Reps. Burns and Duel. "It has been an honor to serve my fellow legislative veterans in this capacity for the last five years," Steagall said. "Together, we've led the charge to effect several statutory changes that benefit our state's veterans and their families. The work of this caucus is far from over, and I'm certain that with the leadership of Representatives Burns and Duel, this caucus will continue to fight for our veterans to ensure that those who wore the uniform and fought for our freedoms and way of life receive the benefits and care they have earned and deserve." The Veterans Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral caucus consisting of over 20 veterans in the state legislature.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives today passed legislation to implement free market principles and assert states' rights in high-voltage transmission construction and ownership. Rep. Trey Caldwell, R-Lawton, authored House Bill 4097, which would give Oklahoma the right to decide how critical transmission infrastructure located within the state would be owned and maintained. "I sat through hundreds of hours of meetings to help Oklahomans who are living on a fixed income or struggling to make ends meet," Caldwell said. "We all know how unpredictable utility bills are, and our constituents are paying more and more every month. Legislators should jump at every opportunity to lower customer costs, especially one that creates the optimal balance of free market principles and states' rights." HB4097 expands the pool of potential qualified transmission developers who could enter the competitive bidding process, resulting in lower building costs that are ultimately passed onto consumers. "Under this new policy, the state would oversee the competitive process and associated rate recovery, clawing back oversight from the federal government," Caldwell said. "Stakeholders overwhelmingly said they have more success advocating for ratepayers at the OCC than in Washington, D.C. Returning the authority to the elected Oklahoma Corporation Commission ensures Oklahomans have a voice." HB4097 eliminates a patchwork grid of accountability by closing regulatory loopholes created by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that allow unregulated entities to own transmission in our state with no accountability or oversight. The state would maintain greater accountability over critical transmission infrastructure costs and safeguard reliability by requiring the state's local electric companies to continue to answer to the elected Oklahoma Corporation Commission. "The Obama Administration forced this policy change on Oklahomans, and utility prices have been rising ever since," Caldwell said. "By cutting federal government red tape, we can increase competition on the front end, which will naturally reduce the rising rates we are experiencing." Caldwell said this policy is a first-of-its-kind in the nation for competitive transmission, but it follows a similar generation model that already exists. The measure, which is not retroactive, would take effect Nov. 1, 2024. HB4097 passed the House 65 – 29 and is now available for consideration in the Senate, where it is carried by Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, today issued a statement following Gov. Stitt's signing of House Bill 1955, by McCall, which eliminates the state's portion of the grocery tax. "Today is a day that has been a year in the making and it could not have come soon enough for the citizens of Oklahoma," McCall said. "House Bill 1955 eliminates the state portion of the grocery tax, which sits at 4.5%, and will save Oklahomans hundreds of dollars each year on their grocery bills. Inflation is higher than at almost any other point in our nation's history, and Oklahomans are feeling that the most through the price of their groceries. I am proud of the House for leading this effort to cut the grocery tax, and thankful that Oklahomans are close to receiving the relief they so desperately need." The bill, which will go into effect 90 days after sine die adjournment of the Legislature, cuts the state's portion of the grocery tax and includes a two-year moratorium on local grocery and sales taxes that prohibits cities from increasing those through June 2025. "Eliminating the state's portion of the grocery tax is a good first step towards helping ease the burden of inflation on Oklahomans, but it is not the only step needed to truly help our citizens," McCall said. "The Senate is currently in possession of a number of House bills that would cut income taxes and change the tax structure of our state to be more favorable to our taxpayers. These bills are equally as important, if not more so, than cutting the grocery tax, and they deserve to be heard and put up for a vote in the Senate. In addition to bills already sent to the Senate, I have filed a number of tax relief measures this year that the House will be sending over as well. The Senate passed the grocery tax cut by a vote of 42-2. To me, that signals that the members of that body are supportive of tax relief for Oklahomans. If that is the case, they should put these other important tax relief bills up for a vote and send them to the governor's desk immediately." -END- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Daniel Seitz, House Leadership Communications Liaison Phone: (405) 962-7649 Email: email@example.com