OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Max Wolfley, R-Oklahoma City, has advanced two bills benefiting seniors in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. On Tuesday, Rep. Wolfley passed House Bill 2020, which increases the Oklahoma income tax exemption for retirement benefits from $10,000 to $20,000 beginning in the tax year 2024. "The exemption for retirement income hasn't been increased in 16 years," Wolfley said. "Inflation has severely eroded the purchasing power of those on fixed incomes." HB2020 passed the House 90-0. It is authored in the Senate by Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton. House Bill 2027, approved recently, provides a state sales tax rebate on the sale of hearing aids. "As it stands now, a senior citizen could take five of their grandkids for two days to the waterpark at Great Wolf Lodge in Texas and pay for everything, including gas, food, and lodging, with the money they save by buying their hearing aids in a state that doesn't tax medical devices," Wolfley said. The taxpayer must file a claim with the Oklahoma Tax Commission within one year of the purchase date, and the commission will refund the state sales tax portion to the taxpayer. HB2027 passed 89-1 and now heads to the Senate, where it is authored by Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan.
Legislation allowing county treasurers to provide the opportunity for residents to prepay ad valorem taxes is heading to the Senate. Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa, said senior citizens and other Oklahomans living on a fixed income deserve flexibility and options to pay their property tax. "Property taxes are the only tax Oklahomans can't prepay," Boatman said. "Providing the flexibility to pay in installments gives budgeting options to our senior citizens and other people living on a tight budget and lessens their worries about whether they can afford to pay at a later date." HB2003 establishes procedures for county treasurers to accept 12 installments payments for the prepayment of ad valorem taxes for the upcoming fiscal year. The measure provides each treasurer discretion to accept installments payments and requires qualifying taxpayers to provide written notice to the treasurer by January 15 each year of their desired payment method. Accounts with delinquent taxes, accounts with an ongoing valuation protest, taxes paid through an escrow account and public service corporations are not eligible for installment payments. HB2003 passed the House 52-31 this week and now moves to the Senate, where it is authored by Sen. Ally Seifried, R-Claremore.
Legislation modifying who appoints members to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives this week. Rep. Danny Sterling, R-Tecumseh, authored House Bill 2263 to give equal appointment authority to the House Speaker, Senate President Pro Tempore and the Governor, who, if the bill becomes law, will appoint two members each to the six-member board. Currently, the Governor appoints all six members. "House Bill 2263 would evenly divide the appointment power between the House Speaker, Senate President Pro Tempore and the Governor to bring more transparency to the board," said Sterling, who held an interim study on the OTA in 2022. The measure reduces member term length from eight years to six years but allows current members are allowed to serve out the rest of their original term, even if it exceeds six years. Appointed members can be removed at any time with cause by the appointing authority. HB2263 also prohibits members from voting on any issue in which they have a direct financial interest. Having passed the House 89-3, the bill now moves to the Senate.