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Capitol Insider: Lawmakers seek overrides of governor's vetoes during final day of session

KGOU - Dick Pryor
Under the Oklahoma Capitol Dome

On the final day of the 2022 regular legislative session, lawmakers unleashed a flurry of votes to override vetoes by Governor Kevin Stitt and passed multiple bills for appropriation of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.


Capitol Insider is sponsored by the Oklahoma State Medical Association. Physicians dedicated to providing and increasing access to health care for all Oklahomans. More on the vision and mission of OSMA at okmed.org.

Dick Pryor: This is Capitol Insider - taking you Inside politics, policy and government in Oklahoma. I'm Dick Pryor with Quorum Call publisher Shawn Ashley. Shawn, a frantic final week in the regular legislative session had lawmakers wrapping up their work in the last two days of the week, yesterday and today before adjourning Sine Die. A lot has happened. First, the general appropriations bill, Senate Bill 1040, became law without Governor Kevin Stitt’s signature.

Shawn Ashley: Yes, that's really unusual. I can't think in my nearly 20 years here at the Capitol when a general appropriations bill, the main spending bill for state government, has taken effect without the governor signing it. On Thursday, the governor held a press conference to address that issue. What he explained, as he has said in the past, was that he was not actively involved in the budget negotiations until near the very, very end. And he said that the budget that was in Senate Bill 1040 did not represent an agreement. What it was, was what the legislature wanted to do and was really handed to him on Monday, shortly after members of the public had seen it. And that was the first time he and his staff had an opportunity to go through it line by line. So rather than signing the bill, the governor decided to allow it to take effect without the benefit of his signature.

Dick Pryor: The legislature came back today to consider overriding gubernatorial vetoes as of 2:30 this afternoon. What has happened?

Shawn Ashley: Thus far, only one bill has seen its override passed both the House and the Senate. And that's House Bill 3501. Listeners may remember us talking about this bill a few weeks ago. What it does is to require the Department of Public Safety to accept traffic violation information from tribal law enforcement agencies. That means if you got a ticket for speeding from a tribal law enforcement agency or a DUI from a tribal law enforcement agency, that information would be entered in the state database against your driver's license. So, violations like that would be treated the same way. Governor Stitt had vetoed that bill several weeks ago. When it was brought up for veto override consideration on both the House and Senate floor there was no additional discussion about the bill and the chambers voted to override the veto. As a result of that it will become law.

Dick Pryor: On Thursday, the governor called a special session to convene June 13th to consider eliminating the sales tax on groceries. That's something he wanted that the legislature did not do. How is that special session call being received?

Shawn Ashley: Well, we will really know for sure on June 13th, when lawmakers are supposed to show up at the Capitol and begin that special session, They could on that day, gavel in and gavel out. In terms of the proposal put forth by the governor to eliminate the sales tax on groceries and also reduce the individual income tax, we really haven't heard from legislative leaders on that proposal. They've been focused on finishing out the regular session and working on their own special session related to the American Rescue Plan Act funding. It seems unlikely, however, that because lawmakers rejected those ideas of eliminating the grocery sales tax and reducing the individual income tax during the regular session, that they're going to warmly embrace that idea in a special session while they should be out campaigning.

Dick Pryor: That ARPA special session that you mentioned will last several months. But already the governor has vetoed one of the bills for water infrastructure projects. Why did that one draw a veto?

Shawn Ashley: Yes, the governor line item vetoed a portion of Senate Bill 429 that would provide $20 million for matching funds to be offered as grants in communities where tribal governments were also providing funding for various projects. Obviously, it seems that the relationship with the tribal governments in that portion of the bill is what resulted in the line item veto.

Dick Pryor: Thanks, Shawn.

Shawn Ashley: You're very welcome.

Dick Pryor: We will have a summary of everything that happened on the final day of the regular session in our next Capitol Insider on Monday morning. If you have questions, e-mail them to news@kgou.org or contact us on Twitter @kgounews are @QuorumCallShawn. Until next time, with Shawn Ashley, I'm Dick Pryor.

Dick Pryor has more than 30 years of experience in public service media, having previously served as deputy director, managing editor, news manager, news anchor and host for OETA, Oklahoma’s statewide public TV network. He was named general manager of KGOU Radio in November 2016.
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