2019 Legislative Agenda

2019 Public Policy Priorities

State Issues

County Government Reform
The Chamber supports legislation and/or an Initiative Petition to empower Oklahoma counties to alter their form of governance to meet their unique needs.

Workers’ Comp Reform
The Chamber supports defending and improving the comprehensive workers’ compensation reform legislation passed by the legislature and signed by the governor 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:

  • Quality Jobs Act, 21st Century QJA, Small Employer QJA and the Prime Contractor QJA
  • Aerospace Engineer Tax Credit
  • Investment/New Jobs Tax Credit
  • Historical Building Rehabilitation Tax Credit
  • Freeport (Inventory) Exemption
  • Five-year ad valorem abatement and sales tax exemption for manufacturing facilities
  • Oklahoma Regional Home Office Insurance Premium Tax Credit

The Chamber will pursue legislation to enact or modify an incentive to address the statewide shortage of software engineers and work to protect the Energy Efficient Homes Tax Credit.

Tax Increment Financing Districts (TIFs) and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs)
The Chamber supports retaining economic development programs that create and maintain jobs and investments in Oklahoma including tax increment financing districts and business improvement districts.

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 If an incentive program cannot show a positive return to the state, it should be scaled back or repealed. 

Gun Legislation
The Chamber is fully supportive of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the responsible expansion of gun-owner’s rights in Oklahoma. However, the Chamber will oppose legislation that would allow open/concealed carry of guns into high-economic impact events, including horse shows, the Oklahoma State Fair, Olympic-qualifying events on the Oklahoma River, high school basketball and wrestling tournaments at the State Fairgrounds and 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).

The Chamber will also oppose legislation that would allow guns to be carried on college campuses, limit a business owner’s rights to prohibit weapons or allow guns to be carried by individuals who haven’t been tested/trained and do not have a permit.

The Chamber will lead and support the efforts of the Oklahomans for Business and Property Owners’ Rights coalition to defend against harmful gun legislation.

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 efforts of the Criminal Justice Reclassification Council created pursuant to HB 1098 (2018) and the Task Force on Fines Fees and Costs created pursuant to SB 342 (2017) to review and recommend changes to the Oklahoma criminal code to reduce the state’s prison population.

The Chamber supports Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform Policy Agenda to: 1) continue smart sentencing reform; 2) improve bail and jail practices; 3) improve fairness in the pretrial and jury trial process; 4) improve family connections for incarcerated Oklahomans; 5) make reentry and supervision improvements that reduce fines and fees, enhance workforce opportunities and increase public safety; 6) secure treatment funding; 7) better inform future policymaking and oversight; and 8) improve collection and release of data related to courts, jails, policing and prisons.

The Chamber supports legislation to increase the fines/penalties for the possession and/or use of credit card skimming devices.

Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Reform Advisory Council
The Chamber supports the work of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Reform Advisory Council, an inter-local government council, designed to institutionalize cooperation and planning for the criminal justice system in Oklahoma County.

Medical Marijuana
The Chamber supports legislation to protect an employer’s right to maintain a drug-free workplace and to enforce policies to prohibit employee impairment during work hours.

Wind Incentives
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.

Pension Reform
The Chamber supports protecting the pension reforms which have improved the long-term fiscal condition of the state.

Water
The Chamber will work with the governor, Oklahoma 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.

i2E
The Chamber supports additional funding for i2E programs, including the Seed Capital Fund.

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.

Competitive Markets for Vision Care
Reduce and eliminate protectionist laws designed to reduce competition for products and services.

FEDERAL ISSUES

Immigration Reform
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.

MUNICIPAL ISSUES

MAPS
The Chamber supports timely completion of all MAPS 3 projects and continuing the discussion on MAPS 4.

2019 Education and Workforce Development Priorities

STATE ISSUES

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.

Long-Term, Strategic Education Funding
The Chamber supports development of a long-term, strategic plan that will enable improvement in classroom teaching and academic performance. We encourage development of detailed legislation that will address the teacher shortage by rewarding teacher performance and experience or incentivizes teachers to work in high priority areas.

Teacher Preparation, Recruitment and Retention
Oklahoma and the nation have a teacher shortage. 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.

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 and ensure that as much funding as possible goes directly to classroom activity.

Longitudinal Data System  
The business community encourages development and implementation of a new pre-K to 20 longitudinal data system that will measure performance and progress. A working system would measure the progress, challenges and success of our education systems from early childhood through higher education and into employment. Accurate data would enhance critical programmatic and funding decisions.

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. More than half of OSSM graduates stay in Oklahoma, and 85 percent are choosing STEM careers. The Chamber supports full funding of the OSSM FY 2019 budget request.

Specialty Schools
We support state funding for schools that serve homeless populations of students who can thrive in schools that target specific needs. We support schools like Positive Tomorrows, a private non-profit school in Oklahoma City exclusively serving homeless students with services that help stabilize their families, bring the students up to grade level and prepare them for success in public school.

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.

Concurrent Enrollment
The Chamber recognizes the excellent learning opportunities offered at our community colleges and career tech facilities. They reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a degree at a post-secondary institution, 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. 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 – Reform and Investment
The Chamber supports the engagement of an independent third party to conduct a comprehensive study of the higher education system and make recommendations about the governing structures, operations, functions, and funding. Such a study should be jointly funded by state and private dollars and address the following topics: 

  • Prioritizing/improving the capabilities of our higher education system. 

Reforming higher education’s overall governing structure to include no more than two (2) sets of Regents, who should pursue/consider:

  • Consolidation of administrative costs
  • Increased on-line and alternative learning options
  • Consolidation/reduction of facilities
  • Creating a strategic, long-term higher education investment and funding plan
  • Encouraging academic innovation, such as joint degree programs, shortened degree programs, workforce oriented certificates and degrees, and improved math outcomes to meet STEM degree demands.

Oklahoma’s Promise
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 training needs for new and existing industry.

Career Readiness and Certification
The Chamber believes Oklahoma needs more of our workforce to have the opportunities to earn more post-secondary education, including certifications, degrees and other training targeting skills that are in demand and meet industry needs.

We support key scholarship programs: Oklahoma Tuition Equalization Grants (OTEG) and Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grants (OTAG)

We support concurrent enrollment. These will help achieve the Complete College America goals by enabling more students enter college and obtain a college degree.

We support development of more work-based learning opportunities such as internships and apprenticeship programs.

2019 Health Care Priorities

STATE ISSUES

Health Insurance Coverage for Oklahomans
The Chamber supports:

  • Extending Health Insurance Coverage to More Oklahomans
    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.
  • Broadening Insure Oklahoma
    The Chamber further supports broadening Insure Oklahoma to provide health insurance coverage to more of the state’s uninsured.

Research and Development
The Chamber supports 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.

Mandates
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.

Medical Education Funding
The Chamber supports maintaining physician training funding for the state’s two largest medical schools in the base budgets of the University Hospitals Authority and Oklahoma State University Medical Authority.

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 and 2) expanding residency programs for the state’s medical schools. 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.

Appropriations Support of Community Health Centers
The Chamber supports adequate state funding for community health centers to provide quality health care to underserved Oklahomans, prevent cost shifting to other entities and maintain a healthy workforce for Oklahoma employers.

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.
The Chamber opposes cuts to the Medicaid budget that would increase the burden of uncompensated care and shifts costs to employers and health care providers.

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; the Oklahoma City-County Wellness Now Health Improvement 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.

Medical Marijuana
The Chamber supports inclusion of medical marijuana under the Oklahoma Smoking in Public Places and Indoor Workplaces Act to ensure medical marijuana is placed under the same restrictions as tobacco by allowing public venues and businesses to prohibit smoking.

Prevention of Disease
The Chamber recognizes the detrimental impact of chronic and communicable diseases (including substance use disorder) on the quality of life for Oklahoma’s residents 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.

FEDERAL ISSUES

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, therefore, we support market-driven health reforms are the best approach to reducing costs while promoting market stability, efficiency, wellness and quality of care.

Medicaid Cuts
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 increase the burden of uncompensated care shifted to employers and health care providers.

2019 Transportation Priorities

STATE ISSUES

Major Projects
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 corridor east of I-35 (Tinker Air Force Base) including expansion of I-40 facility to six lanes; necessary improvements to State Highway 74 (north of Lake Hefner Parkway); and future development of I-44 corridor to provide for future mobility needs due to commercial expansion. 

ODOT Eight-Year Plan
The Chamber supports providing adequate annual dedicated funding necessary to preserve and implement ODOT’s eight-year construction work plan. Furthermore, the Chamber will strongly oppose any effort to divert dedicated transportation funding to other areas of government.

State Bridge Improvement Plan
The Chamber supports providing adequate annual dedicated funding to implement 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.

Sustainable Funding
To address the declining transportation revenues associated with fuel tax the Chamber supports the research and development of sustainable funding alternatives in support of transportation infrastructure.

State Turnpike Plan
The Chamber supports 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 I-40 and I-44 (Turner Turnpike) in eastern Oklahoma County to ease congestion on I-35; and 2) the construction of a new southwest extension of the existing Kilpatrick Turnpike between I-40 and State Highway 152/Airport Road to ease congestion at the I-40/I-44 (K Interchange).

The Chamber supports future turnpike planning consideration to include widening the Turner Turnpike to six lanes from the current construction at mile post 203 extending west to Oklahoma City.

Ports of Entry
The Chamber supports providing adequate annual dedicated funding 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.

Heartland Flyer
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 central Oklahoma region. The Chamber will work with the Oklahoma congressional delegation, the Oklahoma State Legislature, ODOT, the City of Oklahoma City, the Class 1 railroads 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.

ODOT Long Range Freight Rail Plan and Freight Plan
The Chamber supports the implementation of ODOT’s long-range freight rail plan and freight plan.

MUNICIPAL ISSUES

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:

  • Association of Central Oklahoma Government’s (ACOG) Regional Transit Dialogue Committees to identify regional transit alternatives/solutions for central Oklahoma.
  • ACOG’s Commuter Corridors Study recommendations to implement mitigation strategies for future congestion.

The Chamber further supports efforts by the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), consisting of six core central Oklahoma cities, to 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.

Intermodal Hub
The Chamber will work with the City of Oklahoma City (COTPA), the Class 1 railroads, ODOT, the Oklahoma State Legislature and ACOG to ensure the continued viability of the intermodal hub at the Santa Fe station that will effectively integrate various modes of transportation (including OKC Streetcar, Amtrak, bus, future bus rapid transit and future commuter rail) 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.

Street Improvements
The Chamber supports consideration and pursuit of all available funds for ongoing and future street improvements.

OKC Streetcar
The Chamber supports efforts to ensure the viability of the Oklahoma City Streetcar system.

Bus Service
The Chamber supports greater frequency, expanded routes and expanded service hours for bus routes. The Chamber further encourages regional dialogue on providing enhanced bus service.

Bus Rapid Transit
The Chamber supports implementing bus rapid transit on key routes in Oklahoma City tied to the 2005 Fixed Guideway Transit Study.

Parking
The Chamber supports continued construction of additional parking, as appropriate on a case-by-case basis, to allow continued economic development downtown.

Alternative Transportation
The Chamber supports increased construction of sidewalks, trails and bike lanes. In addition, the Chamber supports proper implementation and consideration of bike shares, car shares, scooter shares and future technologies on a case-by-case basis. 

FEDERAL ISSUES

Federal Highway Trust Fund
The Chamber will work with the Oklahoma 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 SMALL STARTS, NEW STARTS, INFRA and BUILD grants. 

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.

OPUBCO