GOING HOME AT DAYBREAK
At long last, the highly controversial SB305 to establish the “PPT” (Petroleum Production Tax) came to the House floor for debate. Thirty – yes 30 - amendments were offered to the bill. The governor had offered a tax of 20% in the bill. The debate ranged between merits and demerits of a 20 to 25% tax. The problem: to find a rate upon which at least 21 House members could coalesce into agreement. Many of us also wanted to establish a tax rate that would be acceptable to the Senate (which had passed a 22.5% tax) – so that the Senate would concur with the House, and we could expedite moving into the critical gas pipeline process debate.
When we started the tax rate debate, House members were pretty much “all over the map” on what the rate should be. This pretty much reflects mail, phone calls, and email from my constituents. It seems half my constituents want to have little or no tax, and half want to tax the oil producers out of existence. Obviously, compromise had to rule the day. As a matter of information, only a minority of the constituents who contacted me wanted the governor’s 20% rate.
I voted NO a 25% rate, voted YES for a 22.5% rate. 21% never made it to a vote. Finally, we passed the bill a 21.5% tax (I voted YES). The vote was House 28 to 11, with 1 member excused. 27 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted YES. 11 Democrats voted NO. This was a reasonable compromise. It was also a momentous vote, because the stakes are so high.
I’ve been in session in the House previously until after 2 in the morning, but 4:30AM, and going home at daybreak, is my personal record. As we used to say in the military, “We knew the risk when we joined up.”