We’re going to start with a little good economic news this week – Oklahoma’s April tax collections rose 38 percent in comparison to April 2020 – a clear sign that our economy is recovering from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collections were led by an increase of about 120 percent in oil and natural gas taxes, a welcome sign to those in the industry. Oil and gas were one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic, and I’m glad to see they are rebounding nicely. No doubt gas and diesel usage will be up even further over the summer months as many places are opening back up for tourists to enjoy vacation. Sales taxes, individual income taxes and marijuana taxes were also up compared to this time last year.
I am pleased to report both Jami Groendyke and Brady Bond were confirmed by the full Senate to serve on the Northern Oklahoma College Board of Regents and the State Fire Marshall Commission, respectively, this past week. I have no doubt that both of these highly-qualified individuals will serve our state well, and I was honored to carry their nominations.
This past week, the Senate also approved the new legislative boundaries that were drawn throughout the past few months during the redistricting process. They now must be approved by the House, and we’ll approve their lines, before the bills can head to the governor’s desk for his signature. Because final census data has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will have to convene in a special session later this fall to address congressional redistricting, since those lines have to be drawn with census data. For our legislative districts, we used American Community Survey data taken by the census bureau because we are constitutionally mandated to complete legislative redistricting prior to the end of session. We did include a provision in the bill that will allow us to modify the legislative districts in special session if the census data shows discrepancies from the ACS data. As a reminder, Senate District 19 will be changing slightly. It will now extend 10 miles to the east of Highway 77. You can view the proposed maps at www.oksenate.gov/redistricting.
On Thursday, the Senate adopted a resolution observing May 6 as the National Day of Prayer in our state. My Christian faith is very important to me, and I know with the Lord and prayer, all things are possible. This was a great reminder to take a step back, assess what’s really important in life and thank God for my blessings. I hope you’ll join me in remembering the power of prayer and give your troubles to the Lord.
Finally, I’d like to wish Dr. Cheryl Evans a very happy retirement as she plans to retire from her post as Northern Oklahoma College’s president on June 30. Dr. Evans was the first female president of the college, and no doubt will leave a legacy of greatness during her 10-year tenure at the college. Thank you for your dedication to higher education and Oklahoma’s students.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as your voice at our state Capitol. Please feel free to reach out if there is anything we can help you with. You can contact me at 405-521-5630 or via email at Roland.Pederson@oksenate.gov.