OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The state Democratic Party will circulate an initiative petition to put a vetoed car tag reduction bill to a statewide vote if it is not referred to the November ballot by the Legislature, its chairman said Friday.
Rep. Mike Mass, D-Hartshorne, made the announcement at a news conference with members of a coalition of urban and rural
Democrats, who are vowing to keep the issue alive.
"We're running out of time," Mass said. In the event proposals to refer the issue to a vote fail to pass before next Friday's mandated adjournment of the Legislature, Mass said the party's apparatus in the state's 77 counties will be able to proceed with circulating a petition.
The talk of an initiative petition by Democrats surfaced after Republican Gov. Frank Keating vetoed a Democrat-sponsored $22.3 million car tag tax-cut bill, saying it would penalize used-car buyers.
The bill would have placed a maximum fee of $85 on tags, but Republicans said it would raise excise taxes paid by most used-car
buyers because of the change in the way the tax is assessed. Tags now can cost several hundred dollars depending on the age and value of the car.
After two vetoes of car tag bills in two years, it's time for the public to decide the issue, Mass said.
House and Senate leaders said they are discussing a referendum, but Rep. Russ Roach, D-Tulsa, said there had been no "clear
signal" from Senate leaders that they would push through a plan for a statewide vote.
Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor, D-Claremore, replied that Senate members are working with House Speaker Loyd Benson on the issue "trying to do all the research that is required to draft a measure that would bypass the governor and put the tag cut question directly to a vote of the people.
"There is also the question of whether the House should attempt to override the governor's veto first."
Taylor said anyone who thinks the Senate "isn't actively pursuing the statewide vote option is out of the loop."
He said there had been no significant movement toward another car tag bill.
Meanwhile, Rep. Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City, House minority leader, said if lawmakers do not pass a referendum, GOP House
members will start an initiative petition that would include a larger tax cut than proposed by Democrats.