1.7.24 – Pawhuska Journal Capital
With the new year came some new laws that may be of interest to many of you. The first is yet another step in the state’s fight to stop illegal activity within the medical marijuana industry. House Bill 3971, passed during the 2022 regular session, directs the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) to implement a secret shopper program to purchase set amounts of product from dispensaries for random testing. These individuals are required to inspect at least 50 licensed dispensaries annually. By 2025, at least 10% of all Oklahoma dispensaries must be inspected annually. The new law further outlines a new relabeling process for any product that doesn’t match what’s listed on its packaging and allows OMMA to use testing results to take action against license holders.
While not a new law, the OMMA’s new medical cannabis industry employee credentialing system also launched on Jan. 1. Industry employees have until the end of the month to submit background and identification information to the OMMA. The 2022 bill creating the new system requires both state and national background checks to ensure more accountability among business owners and to better protect consumers.
Another great new law requires all Oklahoma health benefit plans to provide coverage for biomarker testing, which is used to determine the best treatment for cancer and other diseases like arthritis, as well as other autoimmune conditions and rare conditions. These tests help save time, money and, ultimately, lives by getting patients the treatment they need faster.
More Oklahomans will now qualify for the additional $1,000 homestead exemption. The maximum gross household income for qualifying households has been raised from $25,000 to $30,000.
A new income tax credit is also available for 50% of eligible expenditures incurred by caregivers of their eligible family members, who are 62 years old or older. More than one-fourth of Oklahomans over the age of 45 are caring for a family member or friend to avoid expensive nursing homes or other long-term care options. This provides a $2,000 credit per family member, or $3,000 if the family member is a veteran or has dementia. To qualify, the family member must require assistance with at least two activities of daily living as certified by a licensed health care provider. The caregiver must have a federal adjusted gross income below $50,000 for single filers or $100,000 for joint filers.
We also eliminated the “marriage tax” by modifying the income amount subject to the 3.75% personal income tax bracket for joint filers from $2,400 to $4,600. This will save Oklahoma married couples close to $15 million annually.
Work continues at the Capitol as we prepare for the upcoming session, which begins on Feb. 5. More than 350 Senate bills have been filed so far with more to come. We’ll also be holding several budget hearings in the next two weeks as we work through the new budgeting process. These hearings are streamed live on the Senate website if you’d like to tune in.
You can contact me by calling 405-521-5581 or emailing Bill.Coleman@oksenate.gov.