By Patrick B. McGuigan
The final flurry of activity in the 2010 session of the state Legislature, enacting a number of “revenue enhancements” (or fees, or tax hikes, depending on whose interpretation one endorses), remains a source of great controversy.
One piece of the puzzle is House Bill 2359, a revenue increase of $70.6 million. The boost in government tax income came from a combination of provisions, including a decrease in discounts for vendors, and caps on total discounts to vendors, as well as an increase in fees on coin-operated devices. At dawn of the last day of the 2010 regular session, authors of H.B. 2359 were listed as state Rep. Ken Miller of Edmond and Sen. Mike Johnson of Kingfisher.
House conferees reported the bill in what became its final language at 1:45 p.m on that last day -- Friday, May 28. The House conferees were Speaker Chris Benge of Tulsa, Rep. Jeff Hickman of Dacoma, and Rep. Miller.
Miller was the author. As House author, only he could change language in the bill. The conference committee report reflects his agreement to the language. At 2:11 p.m., Rep. Miller, as House author, asked to be removed as principal author of the bill. He was replaced by Rep. Guy Liebmann of Oklahoma City. At the same time, Miller was added as co-author of the measure.
At 3:33 p.m., Rep. Miller voted for a motion on “previous question” which passed 61-33. Miller voted for previous question, i.e. to cut off all questions. Passage of this motion had the effect of preventing further debate on the matter. Then, at 3:37 p.m., H.B. 2359 was approved in the state House on “fourth reading” by a vote of 61-35, with Rep. Miller voting in opposition.
At 3:40 p.m, a motion to attach an emergency clause to the bill failed narrowly. Although the emergency secured 66 votes, with 32 against, it was short of the votes needed to prevail. Miller voted against the emergency clause. Then, at 3:42 p.m., a motion to reconsider the emergency clause for H.B. 2359 passed 67-18. Miller was one of 16 members who did not vote.
At 3:44 p.m., the emergency clause passed 69-23, with nine members absent. The motion had barely enough votes to prevail. Miller was one of the absent members.
The measure then went to the Senate, where it passed on fourth reading, at 4:48 p.m., by a vote of 39-9. The Senate adjourned at 5 p.m.
The bill went to Gov. Brad Henry, who signed it a few days later.