Tuesday, March 15, 2011

House Votes to Reduce Vending Machine Fee

Rep. Charles Ortega
The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly today to roll back last year’s fee increase on vending machines, potentially helping many small businesses survive.

“It has become clear that we have to reassess last year’s policy decision to triple the fee on vending machine operators,” said state Rep. Charles Ortega, R-Altus.

“The fee increase was clearly excessive and now threatens to drive many operators out of business, which will ultimately reduce state tax collections. By voting to roll back the increase, lawmakers voted today to provide some support to small business owners across Oklahoma”

Last year, lawmakers voted to triple the fee paid by vending machine operators, increasing it from $50 per machine to $150 apiece. The increase was, in part, a response to last year’s budget shortfall.

House Bill 1634, by Ortega, would reduce the fee from $150 to $75.

According to Tax Commission records, there are 54,323 vending machines across the state.

Members of the vending machine association and soft drink bottlers have predicted the fee increase will result in a 30-percent reduction in machines on the Oklahoma market. If that prediction is correct, the $150 fee could actually result in a loss of $6.5 million to the state once associated job reductions are included. That is a dramatic contrast with the $8.5 million increase originally estimated.

“The $150 fee was simply bad policy and I am pleased to see such broad support for rolling it back this year,” Ortega said.

House Bill 1634 passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 96-0 vote. It now goes to the state Senate.
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