Brenda Wright

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

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2015 Legislative Update

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The 2015 Legislative session ended a few months ago and with it brings a few changes related to municipal finance.   Below is a brief summary from the OML Sine Die of those laws.

 

HB 1376 limits the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System exception section requiring a defined contribution system for those hired on or after November 1, 2015. This amendment to the exception in 74 O.S. Section 935.2, which includes municipal employees, limits participation in the defined benefit plan “only as long as he or she continues to be employed in a position” described in the exception. In addition, the employee and employer contributions are changed. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2015.

 

HB 1734 requires any person, firm or entity required to pay a tax, fine or other cost to the state or a local government to make the instrument payable to the state office of government and not an individual who holds public office. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2015.

 

HB 1825 modifies the list of governmental entities that may file certain claims to collect delinquent balances to include as qualified entities such as state agencies, municipal courts, district courts, public housing authorities and district attorneys seeking to collect unpaid court-ordered monetary obligations. It also repeals Title 68, Section 205.2, which is similar language in this same section. The bill went into effect on May 8, 2015.

 

HB 1965 creates the Trooper Nicholas Dees and Trooper Keith Burch Act. The bill bans the use of hand-held electronic devices to “manually compose, send or read an electronic text message” while operating a motor vehicle. The bill makes it a primary offense to text while driving. The bill levies a $100 fine and prohibits the Department of Public Safety from recording or assessing points on any license. It also makes exceptions for a device that is physically or electronically integrated into a motor vehicle, or a voice-operated global positioning or navigation system that is affixed to a motor vehicle, or a hands-free device that allows the user to write, send, or read a text message without the use of either hand except to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function. Municipalities may enact and municipal police officers may enforce ordinances prohibiting and penalizing texting while driving. The ordinances shall not be more stringent and the fine and court costs for municipal ordinance violations shall be the same or less than the $100 fine. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2015.

 

HB 2005 amends the Firefighter Pension System regarding volunteers. It states a person 45 years old or older, as of the first date volunteer services are performed, shall not be eligible for the Pension System for any purpose and shall not receive any benefit or service credit. The Fire Chief shall make the final determination on applicants for volunteer firefighter services if the applicant is over age 45 based on local rules, ordinances and standard operating procedures. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2015.

 

HB 2119 permits the Division or awarding public agency to extend a contract award period no more than 120 days from the bid opening date upon the mutual written agreement between the lowest responsible bidder or bidders and the awarding public agency. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2015.

 

SSB 297 creates the Heritage Preservation Act creating a grant program for financial assistance to cities, counties, nonprofit 21 © 2015 Oklahoma Municipal League, Inc. organizations and tribal governments to operate and improve effectiveness of museums and historical organizations. The bill takes effect on August 20, 2015.

 

SB 327 repeals a number of sections in Title 8 regarding cemeteries, including cemeteries in towns, cemetery associations, cemetery funds and county cemetery associations. Of particular importance is the repeal of 8 O.S. Sections 81-87, 90, 91, 94, 111-115 and 131-141, which is language related to deposit of funds and County Cemetery Associations except references to invalidity clause and acceptance and use of monies and other items. In addition, any county of this state may use its employees and equipment for opening and closing graves and maintaining and improving any publicly owned or other cemetery within the county not owned and maintained by an individual or private organization. A reasonable fee may be charged. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2015.

 

SB 336 creates a sales tax exemption for organizations exempt from taxation via Section 501(c)(3) related to a fundraising event sponsored by the organization or entity when the event does not exceed any five (5) consecutive days and when the sales are not in the organization’s or the entity’s regular course of business. Provided, the exemption provided in this paragraph shall be limited to tickets sold for admittance to the fundraising event and items which were donated to the organization or entity for sale at the event. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2015.

 

SB 376 allows a municipality or a public trust with a municipality as its beneficiary to charge a convenience fee. The convenience fee shall be limited to bank processing fees and financial transaction fees, the cost of providing for secure transaction, portal fees, and fees necessary to compensate for increased bandwidth incurred as a result of providing for an online transaction. The bill also applies to the Uniform Consumer Credit Code. The bill takes effect on November 1, 2015.

 

 

Municipal Finance in Oklahoma is constantly changing, make sure your check the blog frequently for updates on Oklahoma Statute changes and the latest from GASB.  

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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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