House approves two race-riot measures
BY BRIAN FORD World Capitol Bureau
Feb 28, 2001
1/20/13 at 8:16 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The House of Representatives passed two measures Tuesday that would serve as
vehicles for the recommendations of the Tulsa Race Riot Commission.
However, the question of reparations to riot survivors led to a split vote on one of the
measures. The commission is expected to unveil its recommendations Wednesday and is likely to
include a recommendation
The commission will present a final report to Gov. Frank Keating, Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage
and legislative leaders at an 11 a.m. news conference in the governor's offices. Several dozen
riot survivors are expected to attend.
The House voted 53-47 for House Joint Resolution 1028 by Rep. Don Ross and Sen. Maxine
Horner, both black Tulsa Democrats.
Ross said the resolution is a "work in progress" and that a final form
would be worked out with input from Keating and legislative leaders from both parties.
The resolution presently contains an array of tax incentives and benefits for businesses
located in the area of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot and other "distressed" areas in Tulsa and
Rep. Doug Miller, R-Norman, questioned whether Ross planned to include reparations for
Tulsa riot survivors in the bill. Ross said he would rather not say until the final recommendations of the riot
commission are made public. He said state constitutional constraints might prohibit state
funds from being used for reparations.
Miller said there were too many unanswered questions. Ross "doesn't have any answers to
anything -- he doesn't have any details as to what he wants to do," Miller said.
"I think there is going to be opposition to any reparations," Miller said. "Eighty years
later, we as a state should not be paying reparations."
House Speaker Larry Adair, D-
Stilwell, said lawmakers need to be "cautious and deliberate on any decisions about
reparations." He said most of the people in his district would probably oppose race riot
reparations but added that he plans to keep an open mind on the issue.
After the vote, Ross said he personally favors reparations but added that the Legislature needs
to address the issue "in a bipartisan fashion and without emo
Rep. Forrest Claunch, R-Midwest City, questioned whether the city of Tulsa was offering
any of the business tax incentives that would be offered by the state under the measure. "Why
are we doing it as a state if Tulsa is not doing it as a city?" he asked.
Some commission members have argued that the state was at least partially responsible
because, they say, the National Guard did not do enough to stop the rioting and because
discriminatory laws imposed by the state contributed to racial tensions.
The title was removed from the Ross-Horner measure, which gives the House another
opportunity to vote if it passes the Senate.
HJR 1028 says that citizens and their descendants in the area once known as the "Black
Wall Street" and the surrounding community "were never able to fully recover from the
devastating impact" of the race riot.
The area would be designated as "distressed," which means it was once the site of civil
unrest and at least 30 percent of the people living there fall below federal poverty levels.
Expenditures by qualified businesses to improve facilities, to acquire real estate for
expansion, to acquire inventory items and for other operational expenses would be exempt from
the state sales tax.
Such businesses also would be able to retain sales taxes from goods or services that
would be remitted to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. The proposed law would require the
businesses to plow the sales tax revenue into a "qualified business reinvestment expense."
Qualified businesses would have the option of remitting their franchise tax payment to a
"Distressed Area Restoration and Development Fund" or to the "Greenwood Area Restoration and
Development Fund." The state Department of Commerce would administer the funds to make loans
and grants to the qualified businesses.
The funds would each be limited to $5 million. The Commerce Department could make loans up
to $100,000 and grants up to $25,000 from the distressed area fund. Loans up to $150,000 and
grants up to $50,000 would be available from the Greenwood fund.
The House also voted 63-37 for House Bill 1178 by Ross, creating a not-for-profit
corporation to raise funds and assist in the construction of a 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Memorial of
Reconciliation. As amended, the bill would remove a section of law passed two years ago that
would allow for the acquisition of land from the University Center of Tulsa Trust Authority for
the race riot memorial. Ross said the memorial's design committee has located three more
preferable sites in the Greenwood area.
Brian Ford, World Capitol Bureau reporter, can be reached at (405) 528-2465 or via
e-mail at email@example.com.