Greater Oklahoma City Chamber sets 2018 legislative agenda

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Chamber’s board of directors recently adopted a legislative agenda for 2018 that will help local and state businesses thrive while sending a clear signal to companies considering relocation or expansion in the area that Oklahoma City is a great place to work, live, learn and play.

“This is a comprehensive set of public policy priorities that are crucial in creating a strong future for Oklahoma businesses,” said Rhonda Hooper, Greater Oklahoma City Chair. “Implementation of these programs has never been more important in order to continue to grow our economy.”

Below is an excerpt of the key priorities. Read the full list at www.okcchamber.com/legislativeagenda.

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. The following are key programs the Chamber will work to protect:

  • Quality Jobs Act (QJA), 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

In 2018, the Chamber will support extending and improving the Oklahoma Quality Events Act.

Wind Subsidies

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 If an incentive program cannot show a positive return to the state, it should be scaled-back or repealed. 

Gun Legislation

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.

Pension Reform

The Chamber supports legislation to strengthen the long-term financial condition of the state’s pension plans.

Water

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.

i2E

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.

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:

  1. An immediate increase in starting base salary level for all teachers (without creating a funding crisis for other areas of government by reallocation of funds). 
  1. Development of new, broad-based portfolio of new revenue streams, or expansion of existing revenue streams, that does not disproportionately burden any taxpayer segment. 
  1. Fundamental administrative reforms that allow more money to go directly into the classroom and provide school districts with more flexibility to spend local funds.

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.

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.

Preserving and Broadening Insure Oklahoma

The Chamber supports the State of Oklahoma’s efforts to work with the Trump 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.

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.

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 metropolitan area. The Chamber will work with the Oklahoma 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. The Chamber also 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.

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 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.

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. 

Read the complete legislative agenda at www.okcchamber.com/legislativeagenda.