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 the expansion of existing companies and encouraging investment in communities across the state. Following are the key programs the Chamber will work to protect:
In 2018, the Chamber will support extending and improving the Oklahoma Quality Events Act.
The Chamber supports ending the Manufacturer’s Sales Tax Exemption for new wind facilities. The Chamber also supports requiring the Zero-Emissions Tax Credit to be claimed only as a credit and not as a refund.
Incentive Evaluation Commission
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 If an incentive program cannot show a positive return to the state, it should be scaled-back or repealed.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 the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and responsible expansion of gun-owner’s 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 Bricktown Ballpark, and NCAA and Big XII basketball tournaments at Chesapeake Energy Arena/Cox Center), the Oklahoma State Fair, Olympic-qualifying events on the Oklahoma River and high school basketball and wrestling tournaments at the State Fairgrounds.
The Chamber will also oppose legislation that would allow guns to be carried on college campuses or limit a business owner’s rights to prohibit weapons.
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 public’s safety and 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 and will work with other stakeholders to secure their passage in a form that meets the above objectives and protects the public’s safety.
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.
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.
Alcohol Law Modernization
The Chamber will support legislation to eliminate restrictions that prohibit continued modernization of Oklahoma’s alcohol laws.
The Chamber supports timely completion of all MAPS 3 projects.
Internet Sales Tax
The Chamber supports efforts to ensure a level playing field between community retailers and remote/internet sellers to ensure sales and use taxes from online purchases are accurately reported 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.
National Park Service Legacy Act
The Chamber supports passage of the National Park Service Legacy Act to provide dedicated annual funding to address national maintenance needs.
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. We want to see Oklahoma teacher pay be competitive with the regional average. We will support 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. This should include making sure Oklahoma is regionally competitive in the total instruction time required.
Early Childhood Education
The Chamber steadfastly supports early childhood education and full funding of pre-K 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.
Education Funding Transparency
Business leaders want education funding to focus on improving quality of instruction in the classroom. We support efforts to increase funding transparency that makes it easier to understand per-pupil spending, so we can ensure that as much funding as possible goes directly to classroom activity.
Teacher Preparation, Recruitment and Retention
Oklahoma has a teacher shortage and Oklahoma’s teacher preparation system needs to be improved in order to train, attract and retain high-quality teachers. We support the review/revision of policies/laws to improve the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers. This includes support of other alternative pathways, such as Teach for America, that enhance the diversity and skill sets in the teaching profession.
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 statutes and performance standards. We support creating high-quality charter schools and enabling successful charter schools to grow. This includes schools designed to meet the needs of targeted underserved populations or provide specific curriculum.
We support creating a solution to ensure all public schools are funded equitably, and 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 are choosing STEM careers. The Chamber supports full funding of the OSSM FY 2018 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-12, college and career tech facilities.
The Chamber recognizes the excellent learning opportunities offered at our community colleges and career tech facilities. They reduce “seat-time” at post-secondary institutions, which reduces costs and speeds entry into the workforce. Students should be allowed and encouraged to begin pursuit of a degree or other certification while still in high school. Presently colleges are reimbursed at the rate of 26.8 percent for concurrent classes. We support fully funding access for seniors in support of current law and expanding access to concurrent enrollment for high school juniors as funding is available.
Higher Education – College Degree Completion and Funding
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 enrollment growth as funding is available.
We also support legislation to implement recommendations of the OSRHE Task Force on the Future of Higher Education. We will support items that create meaningful and substantive changes in the following areas:
Oklahoma’s Promise is one of the most successful college access programs in the nation. 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.
Career Tech – 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 funding to assure that training needs are met for new and existing industry.
Career Readiness and Certification
The Chamber believes Oklahoma needs more of our workforce to have post-secondary education targeted toward the skills that are in demand and meet industry needs.
Health Insurance Coverage for Oklahomans:
The Chamber supports:
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 liabilities 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.
Sales Tax on Health Care Services
The Chamber opposes the imposition of a sales tax on health care services, including home health care.
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, specialty physicians and allied health professionals in rural and underserved areas; 2) expanding residency programs for 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 appropriate expansion of technology platforms (such as telemedicine and telehealth) and data platforms to enhance access to health care for underserved Oklahomans.
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 so they can continue to provide quality health care to underserved Oklahomans.
Health Care Funding
The Chamber supports protecting health care revenue, including revenue in health care revolving funds, from being diverted to fund other areas of government.
Wellness/Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan
The Chamber supports the following state initiatives including wellness, disease prevention and care programs that serve to improve the physical, behavioral and mental health of Oklahoma citizens: The Oklahoma State Health Innovation Plan, the five-year Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan (OHIP) supported through the State Department of Health, the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative (supported through the Oklahoma Health Care Authority), the Oklahoma City-County Wellness Now and OHIP 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.
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.
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.
The Chamber acknowledges substance 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.
Single-Payer Health Care
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.
Employer-Driven Market Reforms
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 market stability, efficiency, wellness and quality of care.
The Chamber opposes Medicaid cuts that would place increased pressure on reimbursement rates, negatively impact the adequate delivery of critical services to the most vulnerable, exacerbate an already high administrative burden for health care businesses and imperil workforce training programs.
The Chamber will advocate for full funding and timely completion of work on major interchanges located at I-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 (to Shawnee).
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 and further ensure that ODOT is able to maintain a nationally leading bridge improvement program.
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.
Motor Fuels Tax
The Chamber supports increasing the state’s gasoline tax and diesel tax to the regional average and dedicating these taxes exclusively to transportation.
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.
State Safety Oversight for Passenger Rail
The Chamber supports enabling legislation to appoint ODOT and grant it enforcement authority as the State of Oklahoma’s safety oversight/regulatory agency responsible for passenger rail (and downtown street car) as required by the Federal Transit Administration.
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 theOklahoma Congressional delegation, the Oklahoma State Legislature, ODOT, the City of Oklahoma City, 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 supports the implementation of ODOT’s long-range freight rail plan and freight plan.
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 goals of a task force consisting of core central Oklahoma cities working toward 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 greater frequency and expanded service hours for bus routes.
The Chamber supports continued construction of additional parking, as appropriate on a case-by-case basis, to allow continued economic development downtown.
The Chamber supports increased construction of sidewalks, trails, bike lanes, bike shares and car shares.
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.
FAA Air Traffic Control Privatization
The Chamber will work with the Oklahoma Congressional delegation to oppose any attempt by Congress or the Executive Branch to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system.
Federal Capital Improvement Grants
The Chamber supports continued funding for TIGER and New Starts grants included within the FAST (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation) Act.
Freight Rail Regulation
The Chamber opposes any effort by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to impose additional regulation on freight rail operators.
For more information, please contact a member of our Government Relations staff.