Gov. Mary Fallin spanks Legislature for ‘not acting on big issues’

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday blasted the state Legislature on a wide range of pending issues. She aimed particular anger at the solons for not passing a bond issue to finance state Capitol repairs.

Fallin told reporters she is disappointed especially with the state House of Representatives for being “unconcerned with basic maintenance of the state Capitol.”

The Sooner State’s chief executive also expressed frustration with the Legislature for not acting on pension reforms to reduce unfunded state liabilities.

In addition to her rhetorical criticisms, Fallin vetoed 15 of the 16 House bills that were still before her this morning. She told reporters she wanted to “send a message” to the House and Senate.

In response to questions from CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations, Fallin said she is most frustrated with the state House “for not acting on a wide range of big issues.” 

Explaining her vetoes, Fallin said what each of the nixed measures had in common is that they are dealing with “minor issues.”

The vetoed measures touched on the authority of county commissioners, the knives’ industry, attempted limits on power of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), utility services at the state office of Management and Enterprise Services, expungement (legal removal) of criminal records, sales tax exemptions for veterans, infant vaccinations, mediation procedures, conflicts of interest for state agents involved in regulation of liquor sales, responsibilities of the state’s central accounting office, drivers’ license restrictions, wristwatch sales, and lawful defense of another person.

In her veto messages, Fallin characterized each of the vetoed measures as serving “no significant interest of the citizens” of Oklahoma.

Fallin called on the Legislature to use its “valuable and now limited time” to tackle major issues instead of using up time on secondary issues.
The constitutionally-mandated deadline for adjournment this year falls on Friday, May 30.

Fallin stressed her pressure for action will “not be a one-day deal.” She wants the House to move on priorities listed in her State of the State address in February.

While touching on many subjects in her exchange with Capitol reporters, Fallin focused much of scrutiny on inaction on the proposed bond to repair the State Capitol. She also pressed the Senate and House to send to voters a proposed constitutional amendment allowing local school districts to exceed bond limits for storm shelters.

On the former, Fallin said, “The Capitol is not something that just jumped up. Frankly, I’m a little irritated they’ve not acted on it.”

In opening comments to reporters at a noon hour briefing, Gov. Fallin did not include in her list the Legislature’s inaction on funding for the American Indian Cultural Center, a priority to many of the state’s business leaders and tribal governments.

However, in response to questions she said she was upset with the House “kicking the can down the road” on the center.

After listing several issues she wanted legislators to act on quickly in initial comments to reporters, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin in response to questions said the lawmakers should come to the table to negotiate over the horizontal drilling incentive for oil and gas wells.

That levy was reduced from seven percent to one percent in the early years of horizontal drilling technology, but will return to the higher tax next year unless a new rate is negotiated — or the lower rate enacted as new law.

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