Brenda Wright

Brenda Wright, Shareholder Crawford & Associates, P.C.

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2017 Legislative Session

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Another  legislative session has come to an end and with it comes several new laws of interest to municipal finance, municipal court, and City Clerks.  Below is a brief summary from the OML Sine Die Document.  If you need more information, you can access the entire document from the OML website with direct links to each bill.

Finance, Debt and Purchasing:

Public Construction Contracts/Posting Bids: SB 321 by Sen. Marty Quinn (R-Claremore) and Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) amends 61 O.S. Section 104 by altering the notice requirements for proposals to award public construction contracts. The publication time is increased from current law’s at least 20 days to at least “21” days prior to the date set for opening bids. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Public Finance/Cooperative Purchasing Agreement: SB 563 by Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair) and Rep. Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) authorizes any school district including a technology school district to participate in, sponsor, or administer a cooperative purchasing agreement for the acquisition of any commodities or services with one or more public agencies. This includes joint or multiparty contracts between public agencies and open-ended state public procurement contracts. Any local public procurement unit may participate in, sponsor, conduct or administer a cooperative or piggybacking purchasing agreement under the details in the bill. A local public procurement unit is any county, city, town, state agency, and any other subdivision of the state or public unit o agency thereof. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Municipal Audit/Small Municipalities: SB 354 by Sen. David Holt (R-OKC) and Rep. Mike Osburn (R-Edmond) amends 11 O.S. Section 17-105 impacting agreed upon procedure engagements in lieu of audits of municipalities with an income of at least $25,000 and a population of less than 2,500. Removed from current law is the requirement for the AUP engagement to be conducted in accordance with “fieldwork and reporting standards in Government Auditing Standards”. The bill takes effect on August 25, 2017.

Public Trust/Audit: SB 358 by Sen. David Holt (R-OKC) and Rep. Mike Osburn (R-Edmond) amends 60 O.S. Section 180.1 regarding agreed upon procedure engagements for trusts with more than $50,000 in revenues or assets, and for whom an annual financial statement audit is not required by another law. Removed from current law is the requirement for the AUP engagement to be conducted in accordance with “field work and reporting standards in Government Auditing Standards.” The bill takes effect on August 25, 2017.

Public Funds/Bonds: HB 1949 by Rep. John Jordan (R-Yukon) and Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) creates new law requiring local governments at least 30 days prior to a vote on a bond or other evidence of indebtedness to publish on their website a description of the projects or assets that will be acquired, improved or repaired together with a description of any unpaid or unfinished bond approved by the voters preceding the date of the vote on the bonds to be issued and a detailed description of the use of the previous bond proceeds. If to acquire or improve real property, the description shall include a physical address using a street number or some other method by which the location of the property can be identified. If the local government does not have a website then the information must be assessable through some other method using the Internet. If there is no reasonable method the entity shall publish at least once in a newspaper of general circulation. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Utility Relocation/Right-of-Way: SB 85 by Sen. Jack Fry (R-Midwest City) and Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant) amends 69 O.S. Section 1205 regarding relocation of utility facilities for construction on the Interstate Highway System within municipalities of 5,000 or more. Federal funds, if available, may be used. In such event the municipality in which such construction is to be performed shall furnish funds to the state necessary to match the federal funds, “unless the utility requiring relocation is owned by another municipality having a population of 5,000 or more, in which case the municipal utility owner shall furnish the funds. The bill takes effect on July 1, 2017.

Public Utility Provider/Domestic Abuse: HB 1466 by Rep. Elise Hall (R-Oklahoma City) and Sen. A J Griffin (R-Guthrie) amends the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act regarding utility providers. To ensure those with a protective order can maintain a household utility account and an existing wireless telephone number the court may issue an order to the providers to transfer billing responsibility to the petitioner if the petitioner is not the account holder. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

City Clerk:

Open Meeting Act/Minutes: HB 2181 by Rep. Charles Ortega (R-Altus) amends 25 O.S. Section 115 requiring municipal clerks and minute clerks of the school board to produce tentative minutes of regular and/or special meetings. The minutes must be furnished “no later than the close of the business day” within “four (4) business” days, “excluding the day of the meeting,” after “the meeting.” Business days shall mean “Monday through Friday and does not include Saturday, Sunday or holidays legally declared by the State of Oklahoma.” Please note, current law allows five (5) days. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Open Records Act/Record Reproduction: SB 191 by Sen. Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) and former Rep. David Brumbaugh amends the Open Records Act by prohibiting a record from being unreasonably relayed until after completion of a prior records request that will take substantially longer than the current request. A delay is limited solely to the time required for preparing the requested documents and the avoidance of excessive disruptions to the public body’s essential functions. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Open Meeting/Public Notice: SB 403 by Sen. David Holt (R-OKC) and Rep. Elise Hall (R-OKC) amends the Open Meeting Act at 25 O.S. Section 311. At least 24 hours prior to the “regularly scheduled” meetings, all public bodies shall display public notice “by at least one of the following methods: posting at the principle office or at the location of the meeting if no office exists; on the public body’s Internet website in accordance with 74 O.S. Section 3102. In addition, the public body “shall offer and consistently maintain an email distribution system for distribution of such notice and any person may request to be included without charge, and their request shall be accepted. In lieu of these posting requirements, a public body may elect to follow the requirements found in subparagraph b of paragraph 9 of this subsection, provided that 48 hour notice is required for special meetings and that the 48 hour requirement shall exclude Saturdays, Sundays and holidays legally declared by the State. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Insurance/Surplus Lines Tax: SB 438 by Sen. John Sparks (D-Norman) and Rep. Glen Mulready (R-Tulsa) amends 36 O.S. Section 1115 by providing the policies sold to any city or town in this state, incorporated pursuant to law, shall be exempt from the surplus lines premium tax. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Municipal Court:

Municipal Court/Domestic Violence: HB 1121 by Rep. Ryan Martinez (R-Edmond) and Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-OKC) creates the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Court Act of 2017. Subject to the availability of funds, any district or municipal court of record may establish a domestic violence court program as a specialized judicial process for domestic matters both civil and criminal under the bills requirements. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Municipal Court/Forensic Science Improvement Revolving Fund: SB 38 by Sen. Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) and Rep. Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) amends 20 O.S. Section 1313.4 to increase the Forensic Science Improvement Assessment from $5 to $10 per applicable offense. This fee is collected by municipal court clerks. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Human Resources:

Employment/Unemployment: HB 1110 by Rep. Randy McDaniel (R-Edmond) and Sen. Dan Newberry (R-Tulsa) amends the Employment Security Act of 1980 in a number of ways including changing the definition of “experience period”, “computation of benefit amount”, and alterations to the benefits for employees of governmental or nonprofit employers, changes to professional employer organizations and the like. In addition, new law provides for a rate reduction for technology reinvestment apportionment, the creation of a technology fund and provisions for administration of the technology fund. The bill repeals 40 O.S. Section 3-809 regarding group accounts for two or more employers. The bill takes effect on July 1, 2017.

Workers’ Compensation: HB 2423 by Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) and Sen. Kimberly David (R-Porter) amends 40 O.S. Section 418 regarding each insurance carrier writing workers’ compensation insurance and each self-insured employer authorized to make workers’ compensation payments directly to employees. These entities shall pay to the OTC up to a sum equal to three-fourths of one percent (3/4 of 1%) of the total workers’ compensation losses, excluding medical payments and temporary total disability compensation, based on the records of the Workers’ Compensation Court of “Existing Claims or the Workers’ Compensation Commission.” The bill adds this payout is based on the proceeds being reasonable and necessary to accomplish the objectives of the Oklahoma Occupational Health and Safety Standards Act. The bill takes effect on July 1, 2017.

 

Sales Tax Changes:

Sales Tax/Veterans: HB 1198 by Rep. Tommy Hardin (R-Madill) and Sen. Frank Simpson (RArdmore) amends the veteran’s sales tax exemption by adding the requirement that the veteran is registered with the new veterans registry created by the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. An exception is made for those veterans who have previously received the sales tax exemption. Section 1 of the bill takes effect on November 1, 2017. Sections 2 through 12 will take effect on November 1, 2020.

Sales Tax/Remote Sales: HB 1427 by Rep. Kyle Hilbert (R-Depew) and Sen. James Leewright (R-Bristow) creates the Out-of-State Tax Collections Enforcement Act of 2017. It states the Tax Commission may establish the Out-of-State Tax Collections Enforcement Division. The Commission may contract with or employ out-of-state auditors. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Sales Tax/Noncompliance Procedures: HB 2343 by Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) and Sen. Kimberly David (R-Porter) amends 68 O.S. Section 1268.3 (A) regarding noncompliant taxpayer “operating under a sales tax permit” who within any consecutive 24 month period, has failed to file two reports or remit tax due for any two (2) months, as required under the provisions of any tax law. The taxpayer shall not be deemed noncompliant for nonpayment of income taxes. Paragraph (B) is amended by broadening current law to include the “provisions of any tax law”. The bill takes effect on July 1, 2017.

Sales Tax/ Vendor Deductions: HB 2367 by Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) and Sen. Kimberly David (R-Porter) repeals 68 O.S. Section 1367.1 and 1410.1 removing current deductions from sales and use tax collections respectively. The deduction from taxes due is 1% of tax due (with maximums) for vendors keeping records, filing reports and remitting taxes when due. The bill takes effect on July 1, 2017.

Agriculture Fees/Municipal Exemption Removal: HB 2392 by Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) and Sen. Kimberly David (R-Porter) amends 2 O.S. Section 3-82 regarding license/certification fees for pesticide applications. The measure removes the fee exemption for governmental agencies and increases the annual registration fee from $160 to $210. The bill increases the maximum amount designated for the State Department of Agriculture Unwanted Pesticide Disposal Fund from $100,000 to $300,000. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2017.

Motor Vehicles/Sales Tax: HB 2433 by Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) and Sen. Kimberly David (R-Porter) amends various sections of law to enact what appears to be a sales/use tax of 1.25% on the sale of motor vehicles. This is done by amending exceptions in current law. The wording is awkward. Specifically stated: “the sale of motor vehicles shall not be subject to any sales and use taxes levied by cities, counties or other jurisdictions of the state”. Amended is: 68 O.S. Sections 1355, 2106, 1361, 1402 & 1404. The bill went into effect on May 31, 2017.

 

 

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Brenda Wright is a Certified Public Accountant who rejoined Crawford and Associates in February 2009 as Consulting Manager and became a shareholder in 2011.  From 1991 to 2001 she worked for the firm in the auditing and consulting divisions.  Prior to rejoining the firm, she served as Finance Director for the City of Mustang, Oklahoma for seven years.  Brenda has over 24 years of governmental accounting, auditing, and consulting experience. She is a graduate of East Central University.

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