Bill allowing deduction of gambling losses dies

BY D. SEAN ROWLEY
Senior Reporter
07/12/2020 02:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
The COVID-19 pandemic shortened the Oklahoma Legislature’s 2020 session, resulting in passage of fewer than 200 bills, including House Bill 2667 that would have allowed the exclusion of gambling losses under Oklahoma’s $17,000 cap on itemized deductions. OK.GOV
OKLAHOMA CITY – After the Oklahoma Legislature’s COVID-19 centric session, a bill that would have allowed state income tax deductions for gambling losses appears dead.

House Bill 2667, authored by State Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, would have allowed the exclusion of gambling losses under Oklahoma’s $17,000 cap on itemized deductions.

During the 2019 session, the bill passed the House by a 83-16 vote, with the yeas including area legislators Matt Meredith, D-Tahlequah; Chris Sneed, R-Muskogee; and David Hardin, R-Stilwell. State law already allows the omission of charitable contributions and medical expenses when itemizing.

The measure then emerged from the Senate Finance Committee on April 2 with a unanimous recommendation of “Do Pass,” but with its enacting and emergency clauses stricken.

HB 2667 hurdled the Senate by a 32-12 vote, but conversely, none of the area senators supported the bill. Republicans Kim David, of Porter; Wayne Shaw, of Grove; and Dewayne Pemberton, of Muskogee, all voted nay. The Senate’s changes were rejected by the House, sending the measure to a conference committee from which it never emerged.

“We never heard it or saw it on the Senate side,” said Pemberton. “It may be able to come back next year in another form, but this year it is dead.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislative session focused on the most pressing business. 

“We didn’t get to hardly anything,” Pemberton said. “We got through the committee work, and had switched bills between the houses, and then after the next couple of days we had the outbreak. One senator got the virus, and they sent us home. There was a lot of conferencing over the internet, but as far as running bills – we didn’t do anything like that for the next six weeks. We got back to work on mostly health related bills, the things we absolutely we had to deal with. We did the basics, got the budget done and got out of there as quickly as we could.”

Pemberton added that there was no legislation passed that directly dealt with or affected Oklahoma’s tribal governments, saying lawmakers only did “what we had to do.”

“It was a strange session, to be honest,” he said. “We only passed 175 bills, and in a normal session we pass 450 or 500. A lot of good bills were left on the table – I had two or three that were under consideration – but we didn’t have time to address them.”

While HB 2667 is technically dead, Pemberton said bills can often cheat termination.

“According to the rules, it is dead,” he said. “But we discussed the idea that – due to COVID-19 – we might possibly change the rules next year and consider some bills from this session. Nothing is ever truly dead in the state Legislature.”

Some criticism was directed at HB 2667 because the Oklahoma Tax Commission projected its passage could result in a total revenue loss of $17.8 million.

Taxpayer itemized deductions were capped at $17,000 per year by HB 1011xx of 2018 – the measure that obtained revenue for the state’s teacher raises. The bill also got funding from a $1 tax per pack of cigarettes, an increase in the gross production tax on new oil and gas wells from 2 percent to 5 percent, and an added 3-cent gasoline tax and 6-cent diesel tax per gallon.

The Cherokee Nation never publicly announced any official stance on HB 2667.
About the Author
Sean Rowley was hired by the Cherokee Phoenix at the beginning of 2019. Sean was born a long time ago in Tulsa, where he grew up and attended Booker T. Washington High School as a freshman before moving to Pawnee County and graduating from Cleveland High School in 1987. 

He graduated sans honors from Northeastern State University in 1992 with a bachelor of arts in mass communication with emphases in advertising and public relati ...
david-rowley@cherokee.org • 918-453-5560
Sean Rowley was hired by the Cherokee Phoenix at the beginning of 2019. Sean was born a long time ago in Tulsa, where he grew up and attended Booker T. Washington High School as a freshman before moving to Pawnee County and graduating from Cleveland High School in 1987. He graduated sans honors from Northeastern State University in 1992 with a bachelor of arts in mass communication with emphases in advertising and public relati ...

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