Reform, energy legislation goes into effect

More than a dozen bills go into effect Friday, including measures to help modernize state government technology and encourage usage of natural gas as a transportation fuel in Oklahoma.
House Bill 1949, which takes effect Jan. 1 and is part of House Speaker Chris Benge’s ongoing statewide energy initiative effort, extends an existing tax credit on the purchase of a qualified clean-burning motor vehicle for five years for compressed and liquefied natural gas cars.
“Securing our energy future will help secure our economic future nationally,” said Benge, R-Tulsa. “And as an added benefit, increased natural gas usage will grow our state’s economy and create jobs right here at home.”
The credit is equal to 50 percent of the cost of a conversion of vehicles to operate on a qualified fuel, as well as those originally equipped to do so.
The legislation also includes a tax credit for businesses seeking to build infrastructure to fuel such vehicles, along with a $2,500 tax credit for consumers installing home-fueling stations.
Speaker Benge said he hopes this new credit will help double the number of publicly-available CNG fueling stations across the state.
“We have made great strides when it comes to utilizing natural gas, which is plentiful right here in Oklahoma, as a transportation fuel, but there is more to be done,” said Benge. “We must continue to promote natural gas and other alternative fuels locally with the hope of Washington taking note and turning what we have started here into a national push to reduce our country’s dependence on OPEC oil.”
Also going into effect Jan. 1 is House Bill 1170, which creates a Chief Information Officer (CIO) to direct technology purchases for state agencies. The consolidation of technology contracts will help the state pool its purchasing power to help drive down costs and improve services.
Instead of each state agency having its own small information technology (IT) contract, this legislation allows the state to better leverage its purchasing power by buying IT equipment in bulk for agencies that have similar needs.
The law will also work to centralize IT systems to help prevent and quickly attack security breaches where potentially sensitive information is compromised.
“Our state has an out-of-date technology system that doesn’t utilize purchasing best practices or properly leverage state agency purchasing power to maximize savings,” said Benge. “This law will allow our state to capitalize on millions in savings as we abandon antiquated technology practices and streamline purchases and systems.”

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