2017 Government OKC Chamber Priorities
Workers’ Comp Reform
The Chamber supports defending and improving the comprehensive workers’ compensation reform legislation passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin during the 2013 session.
Economic Development Programs
The Chamber supports retaining the state’s premier economic/community development programs which are critical in attracting new businesses to the state, assisting existing companies expand and encouraging investment in communities across the state. Following are the key programs the Chamber will work to protect:
In 2017, the Chamber will support extending the Aerospace Engineer Tax Credit Programs (for both employers and employees) for at least five years.
There are several other programs the Chamber believes should be retained which relate to specific industries or are designed to generate economic development. Those programs include: Oklahoma Quality Events Act, Sales Tax Exemption & Refund for Aircraft Repairs, Exemption & Refund for Aircraft Maintenance/Manufacturing, Excise Tax Exemption on Aircraft Sales and Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program.
The Chamber supports the Oklahoma Incentive Evaluation Commission, which was established to make recommendations to the legislature and governor on which incentive programs are serving their intended purpose and creating economic/community development. If an incentive program cannot show a positive return to the state, it should be scaled-back or repealed.
The Chamber supports placing an annual cap on the Zero-Emission Tax Credit and ending the Manufacturer’s Sales Tax Exemption for new wind facilities. The Chamber also supports requiring the Zero-Emission Tax Credit to be claimed only as a credit and not as a refund.
The Chamber supports the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and responsible expansion of gun-owners’ rights. However, the Chamber will oppose legislation to allow open/concealed carry of guns into high-economic impact events, including horse shows, NCAA and Big XII sporting events (including the Women’s College World Series, college baseball at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, NCAA and Big XII basketball tournaments at Chesapeake Energy Arena/Cox Center), the Oklahoma State Fair, Olympic qualifying on the Oklahoma River and high school basketball and wrestling tournaments at the State Fairgrounds.
The Chamber will work with the National Rifle Association, the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association and other stakeholders to improve and clarify existing gun laws while, at the same time, protecting the above events, many of which are contractually obligated to prohibit weapons.
Criminal Justice/Sentencing Reform
The Chamber supports legislation and funding for sentencing reforms and rehabilitation programs to ease the financial drain on Oklahoma’s criminal justice system, lessen the burden on jails and prisons throughout the state and allow non-violent offenders to enter the workforce more quickly.
The Chamber supports the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Criminal Justice Reform.
The Chamber supports legislation to strengthen the long-term financial condition of the state’s pension plans.
The Chamber will work with the governor, state legislature, City of Oklahoma City and other stakeholders to ensure the availability of a long-term water supply for central Oklahoma.
The Chamber supports legislation to bring Oklahoma into compliance with the federal Real ID laws.
Oil & Gas Tax
The Chamber supports a stable oil and gas tax structure which promotes the investment of drilling capital in Oklahoma.
The Chamber supports continued funding for i2E programs, including the Seed Capital Fund.
Competitive Markets for Vision Care
The Chamber will support efforts to improve the availability of vision care in Oklahoma by eliminating artificial barriers to entry into the eye hardware market.
Alcohol Law Modernization
The Chamber will support legislation to eliminate restrictions that prohibit continued modernization of Oklahoma’s alcohol laws.
Remote Transactions Parity Act
The Chamber supports passage of the Remote Transactions Parity Act to ensure sales and use taxes owed from online purchases are fairly and effectively reported, remitted and collected.
The Chamber supports federal immigration reform to secure the borders and establish reasonable and effective visa policies/procedures to attract essential workers to the United States.
The Chamber supports timely completion of all MAPS 3 projects.
Teacher Pay Raises
The Chamber recognizes the need to increase Pre-K-12 teacher base pay by at least $5,000 per year, using new revenues if necessary. In order to bring Oklahomans together on this vital issue we believe there must be a plan that includes these key components:
Long-term Teacher Pay Plan
The Chamber supports development of a long-term teacher pay plan that helps address the teacher shortage by rewarding teacher performance and experience or incentivizes teachers to work in high priority areas.
Early Childhood Education
The Chamber steadfastly supports early childhood education and full funding of prekindergarten and kindergarten programs. Targeted spending on our youngest children is simply a smart investment. The Chamber supports legislative initiatives to maintain early childhood education programs and initiatives.
Development of New Curriculum Standards
The business community, through the Chamber, must be actively involved in making sure Oklahoma adopts new high-quality standards to ensure high school graduates are college and career ready. The Chamber should be actively engaged with the State Department of Education and State Board of Education as they implement and modify new statewide standards. The Chamber must continue to advocate for standards that will help educators prepare students to meet the high expectations of higher education and employers.
Maintain and Protect Graduation Requirements
The Chamber wants all high school graduates to be prepared to enter college or the workforce. In 2016 the Chamber supported elimination of the end-of-instructions tests because we expect to see the State Department of Education and State Board of Education to adopt new graduation standards in 2017. The Chamber supports creation of new high school graduation requirements. We support utilization of a nationally-recognized assessment, such as the ACT or other nationally-recognized tests, to be used as part of new graduation requirements. New requirements must be rigorous, cost-effective, nationally comparable, timely and relevant to students/educators/parents.
A-F School Report Cards
The Chamber has historically supported creation of meaningful accountability and performance assessment systems including the A-F school site reports. The Chamber will support improvements to this system that are relevant and that make the reports easy for parents and community members to understand. Scores must reflect real performance.
Public Charter Schools
The Chamber supports charter schools and education choices. Charter schools are public schools with public school students and are required to adhere to Oklahoma statute regarding public schools. We support creating high-quality charter schools and enabling successful charter schools to grow.
We support creating a solution to ensure all public schools are funded equitably, and specifically we support creating a solution to address the facility needs of Oklahoma charter schools.
Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics
The Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) has consistently ranked among the nation's top public high schools. Over half of OSSM graduates stay in Oklahoma, and 85 percent choose STEM careers. The Chamber supports full funding of the OSSM FY 2017 budget request.
School and Campus Safety
The Chamber continues to oppose efforts that would allow firearms to be present on college and career tech campuses. The Chamber believes firearms should not be part of life on campus. The Chamber opposes efforts to permit the carrying of weapons at early childhood, pre-K through 12, college and career tech facilities.
Higher Education – College Degree Completion and Funding
Since 2011, Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have been working to increase the number of degrees and certifications. The Chamber supports prioritizing funds to ensure continued success for the Complete College America initiative.
The Chamber supports higher education capital and maintenance improvements to support record enrollment growth as funding is available.
Oklahoma’s Promise is one of the most successful college access programs in the country. We oppose legislation that would diminish the program’s focus on college access. We support efforts to increase the number of college graduates and to maintain the direct allocation of state funds, which ensures full funding of the scholarships earned by Oklahoma students.
CareerTech – Business and Industry Training
The Oklahoma CareerTech system is acknowledged as one of the top systems in the nation. CareerTech is a key ingredient in attracting industry to Oklahoma through its Training for Industry Program (TIP). The Chamber supports enhancement of CareerTech programming and ongoing funding to assure that training needs for new and existing industry are being met.
Career Readiness and Certification
The Chamber believes Oklahoma needs more of its workforce to have post-secondary education targeted toward the skills that are in demand and meet industry needs.
These will help achieve the Complete College America goals by enabling more students enter college and obtain a college degree.
The Chamber supports:
The Chamber supports extending health insurance coverage to more Oklahoma residents, through pursuit of all available funds, to cover the costs of uncompensated care that is currently shifted to employers and health care providers.
The Chamber supports the State of Oklahoma’s efforts to work with the new presidential administration to preserve Insure Oklahoma through securing a multi-year waiver from the federal government. The Chamber further supports broadening Insure Oklahoma to provide health insurance coverage to more of the state’s uninsured.
The Chamber supports participating in state-level dialogue on obtaining a Section 1332 waiver (if available under the ACA) to ensure access for businesses to affordable health insurance coverage.
Care Coordination Model
The Chamber supports efforts by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to implement “care coordination” models designed to provide access to more efficient, less costly, higher-quality health care for the state’s high-risk and vulnerable aged, blind and disabled (ABD) population.
Research and Development
The Chamber will support efforts to foster an environment that is conducive to further research and will oppose efforts to unreasonably restrict the continued development of the state’s bioscience and research programs.
The Chamber opposes new health insurance mandates and liability that will undermine an employer’s ability to provide quality health insurance at reasonable cost to employees.
The Chamber further opposes new mandates being placed on physicians, hospitals and providers that will increase the cost of providing quality health care in Oklahoma.
Physician Shortage/Rural Access
The Chamber supports the following initiatives to address health care disparities: 1) incentivizing the recruitment and retention of primary care physicians and allied health professionals in rural and underserved areas; 2) expanding residency programs in the state’s medical schools and 3) developing high school programs to encourage medical careers. The Chamber supports efforts to identify new funding streams dedicated to these initiatives.
The Chamber also supports the expansion of technology platforms (such as telemedicine and telehealth) to address the physician shortage and limited access to health care in rural Oklahoma.
The Chamber will work with the state legislature, the Oklahoma State Insurance Department and insurance carriers to participate in policy development to achieve provider network adequacy.
Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET)
The Chamber supports the constitutional provisions of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) to support the public health of Oklahomans.
Uncompensated Care Pool
The Chamber supports adequate funding for the state’s uncompensated care pool which allows federally-qualified health centers to be paid for providing quality health care to underserved Oklahomans.
Any Willing Provider
The Chamber opposes “any willing provider” legislation which would eliminate the incentive for medical providers to contract with managed care networks and, as a result, potentially frustrate efforts at cost and quality control and ultimately deny consumers the benefits of cost-reducing arrangements with providers.
Wellness/Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan
The Chamber supports state initiatives including wellness and disease prevention and care programs that serve to improve the physical, behavioral and mental health of Oklahoma citizens such as the Oklahoma State Health Innovation Plan; the new five-year Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan supported through the State Department of Health; the Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County Wellness Now Plan; tobacco prevention programs; studies of the potential health effects of e-cigarettes; public outreach initiatives; efforts to address health disparities and workplace and school-based wellness, health education and healthy eating programs.
The Chamber supports legislation that would provide municipalities with local control over local issues such as tobacco use and smoking.
Prevention of Disease
The Chamber recognizes the detrimental impact of chronic and communicable diseases on the quality of life for Oklahoma’s citizens and the severe economic costs they impose on health care providers and employers. Therefore, the Chamber will support efforts by the state’s elected officials and medical and research communities to develop avenues to successfully prevent and combat congenital, chronic, pandemic and communicable diseases.
Penalties for Sale of Over-the-Counter Drugs
The Chamber will oppose measures that would limit access to the sale of legal over-the-counter products.
Prescription Drug Abuse
The Chamber acknowledges prescription drug abuse is a crisis facing Oklahoma and supports collaborative efforts by stakeholders to address this issue that can lead to death and negatively impact quality of life, health care costs and employers.
The Chamber supports improving health care quality, access and affordability without imposing new mandates and/or taxes on business. Therefore, the Chamber opposes a single-payer government-run/public option or health care system with government mandates.
The Chamber believes that employers drive innovation in health benefits and that market-driven health reforms are the best approach to reducing costs while promoting efficiency, wellness and quality of care.
The Chamber will advocate for full funding and timely completion of work on major interchanges located at Interstate 44/Broadway Extension and I-240/I-35 (Crossroads), as well as the following major projects: I-40 east of I-240, I-40 east of I-35 (Tinker Air Force Base); necessary improvements to State Highway 74 (north of Lake Hefner Parkway); and expansion of I-40 to six lanes (east of Choctaw Road Interchange).
Governor’s Bridge Improvement Plan
The Chamber supports providing adequate annual appropriations to implement Gov. Mary Fallin and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Bridge Improvement Plan to repair or replace all of Oklahoma’s structurally deficient bridges on the state’s highway system by 2020.
ODOT Eight-Year Plan
The Chamber supports annual appropriations necessary to preserve and implement ODOT’s eight-year construction work plan. Further, the Chamber will strongly oppose any effort to divert dedicated transportation funding to other areas of government.
To ensure funding is available to ODOT for the performance of critical project completion and maintenance work on the state’s transportation system, the Chamber supports keeping the state’s gasoline tax revenue whole.
Governor’s Turnpike Plan
The Chamber supports Gov. Fallin and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s “Driving Forward” Turnpike Program and, specifically, the following Oklahoma City-area projects: 1) the construction of a new turnpike facility to link Interstates 40 and 44 (Turner Turnpike) in eastern Oklahoma County; and 2) the construction of a new southwest extension of the existing Kilpatrick Turnpike between I-40 and State Highway 152/Airport Road.
Ports of Entry
The Chamber supports adequate annual state appropriations and staffing levels for the timely completion and effective use of weigh stations at Oklahoma’s ports of entry to ensure the protection of Oklahoma’s roads and bridges from unnecessary damage caused by overweight freight loads.
State Transit Funding
The Chamber supports protecting state revenues allocated into the State of Oklahoma’s Public Transit Revolving Fund to meet citizen demand for public transit.
Passenger rail service is a key component of the development of the Oklahoma City intermodal hub and the future development of commuter rail throughout the metropolitan area. The Chamber will work with the congressional delegation, the Oklahoma State Legislature, ODOT and the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) to oppose efforts to reduce or eliminate state or federal funding received by Oklahoma to operate the Heartland Flyer Amtrak service to Fort Worth, Texas. Moreover, the Chamber supports ongoing efforts by ODOT to negotiate with the State of Texas and Amtrak to ensure Amtrak can be maintained as the passenger rail carrier.
The Chamber supports continued dialogue on extending the Heartland Flyer Amtrak service to Newton, Kansas – which would connect Oklahoma City to Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago and other locations on the Amtrak system.
Oklahoma Rail Safety Improvements Plan
The Chamber supports ODOT’s Rail Safety Improvements plan to address rail safety issues in Oklahoma City and across the state.
The Chamber will work with the congressional delegation, the City of Oklahoma City and ODOT to ensure the timely completion of the Downtown Boulevard. Significant delays in completing the Downtown Boulevard will impair access to downtown and negatively impact current and future businesses located along the proposed boulevard route and within the downtown core.
Mass Transit/Commuter Rail
The Chamber supports implementation of transit programs that will best serve central Oklahoma including the Central Oklahoma Transit and Parking Authority (COTPA) 2005 Fixed Guideway Transit Study and its following components:
The Chamber further supports the development and implementation of a task force consisting of core central Oklahoma cities working toward the goal of establishing a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) to further plan and launch future regional transit services.
The Chamber will work with ACOG, municipal governments, ODOT and Class 1 railroads to conduct early-stage planning for introducing commuter rail service into downtown Oklahoma City from Norman, Edmond and Midwest City. Further planning consideration should be given to potential future expansion of rail service to the Shawnee and Yukon areas.
The Chamber will work with the City of Oklahoma City, ACOG, COTPA, ODOT and the state legislature to ensure the continued viability of the intermodal hub at the Santa Fe station that will effectively integrate various modes of transportation and enhance economic development opportunities.
The Chamber supports efforts to work with stakeholders to maximize alignment and development of future locally preferred alternatives for mass transportation.
The Chamber supports the creation and increased frequency of new non-stop airline flights to and from Will Rogers World Airport to enhance the connectivity of Oklahoma City to destinations across the country. The Chamber will also work to protect existing non-stop flights.
The Chamber supports greater frequency and expanded service hours for bus routes.
The Chamber supports continued construction of additional parking to allow continued economic development downtown.
The Chamber supports increased construction of sidewalks, trails and bike lanes.
Federal Highway Trust Fund
The Chamber will work with our congressional delegation and ODOT to secure a permanent funding solution for the Federal Highway Trust Fund (including mass transit programs).
The Chamber supports adequate funding levels to properly maintain the national transportation system.
The Chamber supports continued increases in federal bus and facilities funding levels represented within the current FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act, five year transportation law. This should include discretionary bus funding being primarily needs-based.
For more information, please contact a member of our Government Relations staff.