Disaster Relief

The Legislature approved a total of $5.2 million for appropriation to the Governor's Contingency and Emergency Fund for assistance to disaster victims. More than 7,100 Oklahomans have requested state or federal disaster assistance after the May 3 tornadoes, which killed 44 and injured 795. Sixteen counties are included in the Federal Disaster Declaration for both individual and public assistance: Caddo, Canadian, Craig, Cleveland, Creek, Grady, Kingfisher, LeFlore, Lincoln, Logan, McClain, Noble, Oklahoma, Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Tulsa counties. Of the total funds:

  • $4.0 million was appropriated from the Rainy Day Fund. (HB 1565)

  • $1.2 million was re-allocated from prior year appropriations to the District Attorneys Council and the Indigent Defense System for costs of prosecuting the Murrah Building Bombing. (SB 173)

  • $1 million in Rainy Day funds was appropriated to the State Board of Vocational and Technical Education for disaster relief training programs. (HB 1565)

Lawmakers crafted much of the relief to tornado victims by modifying tax laws:

  • SB 1 allows a credit against vehicle registration fees and excise taxes for vehicles replacing those destroyed by the tornadoes. For registration fees, the credit is in an amount based on the remaining registration period. For excise taxes, the credit is in the full amount of excise taxes paid for a vehicle purchased in the year prior to May 3, 1999.

  • SB 316 extends deadlines for certain tax payments for vendors unable to make payments due to the tornadoes. It also provides a sales tax exemption for items withdrawn from inventory for donations to tornado victims.

  • In response to the destruction of the retail base of the town of Stroud, HB 1466 was passed to provide five-year manufacturers ad valorem tax exemptions for certain wholesale grocery distributors and retail shopping centers. To claim the exemption, facilities must be repaired or rebuilt by May 3, 2001, and must employ at least 90% of the average level of employees as in the year prior to the tornadoes.

  • HB 1585 allows a five-year, refundable income tax credit for increased property taxes on residential property that is rebuilt after being damaged or destroyed by the May 3 tornadoes. The property must be the primary residence of the owner both prior to and after the tornado and must be homestead property.

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