Oklahoma Legislature must finish its work by 5 PM Friday


Tuesday, May 27th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


From casino gambling at the racetrack to raising the cigarette tax, lawmakers have several hot button issues still on their agenda, with only three days until the legislative session is over.

News on 6 Anchor Scott Thompson is keeping an eye on what's happening at the state capitol.

The state capitol in Oklahoma City is usually a flurry of activity at the end of the session. And this year is no exception. Lawmakers were going to end the session a week early, but there was too much unfinished business. Now, they have three days to wrap things up.

Smokers are the targets of several bills still alive at the state capitol. There are measures to keep smokers from lighting up in many public places, and another that would raise cigarette taxes.

Lawmakers will decide how schools will be reimbursed for property tax exemptions within their district. Schools like Broken Arrow and Bixby are supposed to receive a share of $14-million.

The legislature is also set to take up the issue of casino-style gambling at racetracks. The racing industry rallied at the capitol Tuesday. Horsemen say without action from lawmakers the racing industry will not be able to survive in Oklahoma. Rep. Wayne Pettigrew of Edmond: "you know our goal is to save racing and Oklahoma and give them the same opportunities, tribal establishments that are already operating." Rep Forrest Claunch of Midwest City: "What we're doing is we're saying we'll make the race tracks legal with the same illegal things the Indian casinos are doing now."

And the lawmakers still need to approve funding for 13 state agencies, including the Department of Corrections, and the District and Supreme Courts.