Representative Charles McCall’s bill to allow counties to impose a tax on sand and limestone mining operations that sell their product elsewhere didn’t make it through the full House by the March 14 deadline.
But McCall, R-Atoka, says he will try again next year.
“Unfortunately the measure will go no further this session … however it can and will be introduced next year,” McCall tells StateImpact. “The additional time will afford further education to the membership on this matter.”
As StateImpact reported in February, for years, south-central Oklahoma lawmakers have been pushing for a new tax — or at least a county option for a new tax — on companies that mine for stone and sand, particularly in the sensitive Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer.
It’s not that Johnston County residents want the out-of-state companies to leave — well, some do — but many agree they should be getting something more for sacrificing the county’s natural resources. District 2 Commissioner Mike Thompson is among them.
“We definitely need [the mining companies], and we’re not trying to run them out or nothing,” Thompson says. “We appreciate what they do, employment and everything. But we just would like to have our fair share that’s leaving the state.”
McCall’s task is a tall one — convincing the fervently anti-tax Oklahoma Legislature that county’s should be allowed to tax these mining companies — but the death of the bill this session was actually progress compared to previous attempts.
This session, for the first time, county commissioners from across the state were organized behind the effort. The bill got through the House committee process after failing to do so the year before.