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Capitol Insider: Car Dealers Sue Oklahoma, The Capitol Turns 100, How Lawmakers Spend Their Summer

Sue Ogrocki
AP Photo
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin talks with the media as she leans on a stainless steel time capsule to be opened in 100 years, following a ceremony at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City, Monday, June 26, 2017. The box will be filled with artifacts, sealed and p

The Oklahoma Automobile Dealers Association is suing Oklahoma over the state’s new motor vehicle sales tax.



The lawsuit argues the 1.25 percent sales tax on car purchases violates the Oklahoma state constitution.  


It says the tax was passed in the last few days of the session, when the constitution bars lawmakers from passing measures that raise money for the state. Car dealers say the tax should have been passed with a three-quarters majority, rather than a simple majority vote.   


“Currently, individuals pay their annual registration fee and if they have just bought the vehicle, an excise tax, when they go to the tag agent.” eCapitol News Director Shawn Ashley told KGOU. “Generally the excise tax was viewed as in lieu of the sales tax.”


Oklahoma lawmakers passed the motor vehicle sales tax bill last month. The bill is supposed to take effect on July 1.


Oklahoma Capitol Centennial


The State Capitol turns 100 Friday. To commemorate the event, a time capsule will be installed to be opened 100 years from now, in 2117.


eCapitol's Christie Southern reports the time capsule will contain various items from across the state government.


Trait Thompson, the Capitol Restoration project manager, told eCapitol,

For the Capitol Restoration Project, we are contributing a photo of all of the construction workers and personnel from our contractors and subcontractors that was taken on June 1 on the south steps of the capitol,” Thompson said. “We are also contributing a signed hard hat of OMES (Office of Management and Enterprise Services) staff members who are working on the project.


Other items include a turkey call from the lieutenant governor commemorating his office’s annual turkey hunt, a copy of the senate rules and front pages from newspapers across the state.


“The state capitol building was originally opened on June 30 1917,” Ashley said. “But as officials pointed out at an event, there really wasn’t much a grand opening for the capitol because that was during World War I and everyone's attention was focused elsewhere.”


Due to construction at the capitol, the permanent resting place for the capsule won't be decided until construction nears an end.



What Do Legislators Do During The Summer?


“First of all they are responsive to their constituents,” Ashley said. “They hear from them throughout the year, who may be having problems with state agencies or may have a question about a particular rule or law.”


Lawmakers will also participate in interim studies, taking a deeper dive into some of the issues they hope to address in coming sessions.


eCapitol reports House members requested 136 studies. That’s 65 more requests than in 2016. Most pertain to education and healthcare


Last year, 71 interim study requests were approved.


Ashley says lawmakers also spend the summer attending community events and socializing with constituents.







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