Economic Development Issues
All business incentives should provide the state with a benefit that out-weighs the cost to the state of the incentive. The Chamber therefore supports increased scrutiny, transparency and openness in evaluating the effectiveness of the state’s economic development incentives and the creation of a process to do so.
The Chamber relies heavily on a number of the state’s economic development and incentive programs to recruit companies to the Greater Oklahoma City area and to enhance opportunities for our existing companies. The Chamber believes it is critical that certain programs be retained by the state. Our position on specific economic development incentives is as follows:
- The Chamber supports retaining our “premier economic development incentives” that are critical in attracting new businesses to the Greater Oklahoma City area and in providing existing businesses an economic incentive to expand. These incentive programs are, for the most part, unique to Oklahoma and separate the state from what other states and competing locations are offering. We will oppose attempts to sunset, repeal or unreasonably modify the following economic development programs: The Quality Jobs Act (QJA), 21st Century QJA, Small Employer QJA, Prime Contractor QJA and Aerospace Engineer Tax Credit.
- The Chamber supports protecting Oklahoma’s “foundational incentive programs,” which are basic incentives offered by virtually every other state and competing location. Without the following programs, Oklahoma will not be considered a viable location by many companies looking to locate in Oklahoma: Five-year ad valorem tax abatement and sales tax exemption on facilities and equipment used in manufacturing and warehouse and distributions systems, the Freeport (Inventory) Exemption and the Investment Tax Credit.
- The Chamber supports retaining several “industry specific incentives” that are necessary for the development of industries important to Oklahoma’s economic future. Those programs are: The Oklahoma Quality Events Act, the Sales Tax Exemption & Refund for Aircraft Repairs and Modification, the Sales Tax Exemption & Refund for Aircraft Maintenance or Manufacturing Facilities and the Excise Tax Exemption on Aircraft Sales.
- Additionally, the Chamber supports retaining the following Community Development Programs: 1) Tax Credit for Qualified Rehabilitation Expenditures for Historic Buildings; 2) Tax Credit for Electricity Generated by Zero-Emission Facilities; and, 3) Tax Credit for Energy Efficient Residential Construction. These programs have different policy objectives than the economic development incentive programs and should therefore be evaluated under different metrics.
The Chamber supports additional lawsuit reform in Oklahoma, including legislation to:
- Absolve businesses from liability when providing products or services in emergencies.
- Place “lawsuit lenders” under the UCC Consumer Credit Code or state usury laws.
- Adopt the “Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting Act” to establish policies and limits on the use of private contingency fee attorneys on behalf of the state.
Research and Development
The Chamber advocates funding for programs managed by OCAST, specifically the Seed Capital Fund and other programs managed by i2E, to support the creation and growth of small businesses and jobs in Oklahoma.
The Chamber opposes illegal immigration. We supports an improved immigration process that promotes the ability of students and workers to enter the United States lawfully and allows employers to accurately verify the status of employees through a federal database. The Chamber believes that immigration policy should be set by the federal government and support comprehensive reform at that level.
Additionally, if the state legislative pursues immigration reform, the Chamber will consider supporting reforms that:
- Are consistent with federal law;
- Do not place unreasonable burdens, costs or penalties on Oklahoma employers;
- Are directed toward law enforcement issues related to Oklahoma crimes;
- Will not lead to “racial profiling” by law enforcement officials; and,
- Do not limit the ability of students graduating from Oklahoma high schools to qualify for state-supported aid or pay in-state tuition.
American Indian Cultural Center and Museum (AICCM)
The Chamber will support legislation to allow state bonds (or other state funding) to be issued to match privately raised money to facilitate the completion of the AICCM if the AICCM develops a viable plan to fund its ongoing operations.
The Chamber will work with the City of Oklahoma City to ensure the availability of a long-term water supply for central Oklahoma. We will continue to monitor the implementation of the state comprehensive water plan and water-related legislation to protect central Oklahoma’s water supply.
The Chamber supports legislation to strengthen the long-term financial condition of the state’s pension plans.
Quality Events Act
The Chamber supports legislation to strengthen and improve the Oklahoma Quality Events Act to allow Oklahoma communities to attract and retain high-economic impact events in an increasingly competitive regional, national and international market.
Bond to Repair State Capitol
The Chamber supports the issuance of state bonds to repair the State Capitol Complex.
Nexus/Internet Sales Tax Legislation
The Chamber supports legislation to clearly define the state’s “nexus” laws (which require retailers with a physical presence in Oklahoma to collect and remit sales tax on internet sales) to ensure that sellers collect and remit sales tax on sales to Oklahoma residents to the full extent of the law.
The Chamber supports a State Question, either through an Initiative Petition or legislation, which will allow Oklahomans to determine whether to allow wine to be sold in grocery stores.
For more information, please contact a member of our Government Relations staff.