March 02nd, 2009

Tax exemptions for livestock show awards shelved

Oklahoma City - State Capitol – A bill that would help youth participating in this weekend’s Pittsburg County Junior Livestock Show was shelved last week in the House of Representatives.  Local legislators today expressed disappointment that the bill is stalled for the remainder of this legislative session. 

HB1918 would have exempted cash awards given at youth livestock competitions from state and federal income taxes.  Though it unanimously passed an appropriations subcommittee, leadership on the Appropriations and Budget Committee refused to take up the bill.  Now the legislation will not be allowed a hearing until at least 2010. 

“This bill would have directly helped youth and families in this difficult economic time,” said Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester.  “I’m disappointed it never made it to the House floor. 

“The work that these young people put into raising livestock for show is no less important – and no less difficult – than work they do in the classroom.  This legislation would have ensured that the money they earn showing livestock would be treated the same as an academic scholarship.  I really believe most of us can stand together and agree that this is important legislation.  Unfortunately, some of our House leadership failed to see its value.” 

Rep. Terry Harrison, D-McAlester, believes this legislation could have made a critical difference for youth in FFA and 4-H, affecting whether or not they’re able to participate in these shows. 

“These young men and women work incredibly hard on their livestock projects and are currently required by law to pay taxes on the prize and premium monies they may earn for their achievement,” said Rep. Harrison. 

“If we want to encourage groups such as FFA and 4-H to grow, if we want to instill the values and work ethic of Oklahoma farmers and ranchers in our school children today, then we as legislators must commit to making these shows economically viable.  Otherwise, we will fail to support and nurture Oklahoma’s next generation of farmers and ranchers.” 

Rep. Renegar added that he wished his colleagues would be consistent in how they approach tax relief. 

“Last year, my colleagues voted in $60 million to $100 million in tax breaks to bring an NBA team to Oklahoma City.  And this year, they’re turning around and telling thousands of hard-working Oklahoma youth we value them less than a basketball team,” he stated.  “That’s terribly hypocritical and downright insulting to Oklahoma’s rural families.” 

Reps. Harrison and Renegar both plan to attend this weekend’s livestock show and congratulate the participants on their hard work. “I wish we could go to the show and tell our 4-H and FFA members that we got this bill passed,” said Rep. Harrison.  “I really wish we could tell them that the entire House of Representatives was standing up for them.  It’s unfortunate that the House leadership would literally “shortchange” Oklahoma’s youth.”