With fitting artistic depictions of historical Oklahoma events, the Tulsa delegation meets with State Sen. J.J. Dossett, from left, Tulsa HBA executive vice president Jeffrey Smith, John Madden and Lana Nelson.
Editor's note: This Legislative Update by Mike Means will be published in the August edition of Oklahoma Builder magazine
By MIKE MEANS
OSHBA Executive Vice President
One of the most significant legislative sessions ever has ended. The task of creating a state budget and closing a $1.6 billion shortfall was accomplished. It was not done however, without a little pain.
Of interest to the industry directly was the elimination of the Energy Efficient Residential Construction Tax Credit.
While the elimination of the tax credit is painful, especially to those who utilized the tax credit heavily, your state association was able to accomplish one small victory in the process. It was not eliminated retroactively!
There were several in the Legislature who favored eliminating the tax credit effective Jan. 1, 2016. Part of the rationale was to immediately stay the outflow of tax credits. While many thought it was unconstitutional, there was thought that because it was still in an existing tax year that it would pass that test. Our biggest argument was one of “bad faith.” It is bad faith to not only take it away but also to roll it back after many people had acted in good faith on its existence.
Thank goodness most legislators agreed with us. But with the looming shortfall, this particular tax credit was low-hanging fruit.
Another bill that indirectly affects our industry was a bill that stripped funds out of the reserves from several agencies. One of those agencies was the Oklahoma Uniform Building Code Commission.
As you know, this commission sets the minimum codes that will be followed in Oklahoma. The commission had plans to train inspectors, something we all know is important, to provide uniformity and accuracy in the inspection practice. With the Legislature stripping hundreds of thousands from the reserves, this training will be put on hold.
A big success for our industry was the ability to stop expansion of the sales tax in Oklahoma. There was a proposal to expand the sales tax in two different ways. One was to try and capture more sales tax via Internet sales. This was seriously considered despite the U.S. Congress had stymied many attempts as this affects interstate commerce.
The second, more onerous idea was to tax many of the service industries. Could you imagine the burden and the additional cost if you had to pay sales tax to your framers and trim carpenters?
OSHBA is also a part of the Construction Industry Coalition. We did help in the effort to ensure the rehabilitation work on the State Capitol continues. It is a beautiful asset to our state and has been neglected far too long. We all know that the longer we wait to repair it the more it will cost.
Turning sights toward the next session, we anticipate once again discussion of builder registration in Oklahoma. If you have any particular thoughts on this topic, please let us know.