FEBRUARY LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS

Some members have inquired about the Governor’s proposed sales tax expansion. NewsOK has a good article discussing the proposal (“Fallin’s tax plan would net cities, counties $769M,” NewsOK.com). The article includes a spreadsheet showing the 164 new services that would be taxed under the proposal, including many services that are integral to oil & gas development. Land services are not explicitly listed, but it is unclear at this time if land services would fall under one of the broader categories of services listed. We have made inquiries to our state representatives and other oil & gas industry associations in an effort to determine in particular if brokers and land services companies would be required to start collecting sales tax under the proposal.

There are numerous shell bills that have been filed pertaining to the oil & gas industry. Because these are shell bills, it is not possible to evaluate them until the text of the bills is added at a later date. However, there are many shell bills this year with broad-ranging titles, such as the Second Century Oil and Gas Act, the State Oil and Gas Act of 2017, the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Act of 2017, Oil and Gas Enhancements Act of 2017, State Oil and Gas Enhancements Act of 2017, Oil and Gas Regulatory Reform Act of 2017, Oil and Gas Development Act of 2017. The titles of these bills suggest grand plans, so we will continue to monitor these bills for updates.

HB1366 would make numerous significant changes to the laws relating to notaries public. The bill would permit documents to be notarized electronically using “audio-video communication.” It would also increase the notary bond from $1,000.00 to $10,000.00 and increase the allowable fee for each notarial act.

HB1902 states that when municipal regulations of oil and gas development substantially impair the development of minerals it is considered a taking, which could result in payment to the mineral owners.

HB2303 would remove the requirement that an Oklahoma attorney examine an abstract in order to obtain title insurance and allow title insurance companies to decide what title evidence they deem adequate for issuing title insurance. This bill would appear to have a larger impact on surface transactions, but it is significant to the oil & gas industry due to the impact it could have on the business model of abstracters.

SB284 would make several changes to the 2011 Shale Reservoir Development Act that generally would expand the possible use of extended lateral horizontal units beyond just shale reservoirs to any reservoir deemed by the Corporation Commission to be suitable for development by an extended lateral horizontal.

HB1356 makes changes to the statute governing acceptable distances between wells and structures.

HB2215 would dramatically alter county governments by extending the terms in office of county sheriffs, county clerks, county treasurers, county assessors, county commissioners, district attorneys, and court clerks—so essentially all county officers—from 4 years to 24 years.

If you know of legislative or regulatory activity that you would like the Legislative Affairs Committee to analyze and discuss, please let us know by contacting Aaron Meek at meek@hampton-milligan.com or (405) 235-5620.