The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber recognizes the benefits of partnerships when working to represent the business community and create a pro-business climate statewide. In 2012, the Chamber will work together with the Tulsa Metro Chamber to lobby the State Legislature on the following issues.
DEVELOPMENT, ECONOMY & TAXES
Economic Development Incentives
The Chambers support legislation or a constitutional amendment to permanently address the 2009 ruling of the Oklahoma Supreme Court which held that ad valorem tax is owed on a company's Intangible Personal Property (such as trademarks, patents, computer software, contracts, customer lists, goodwill and advertising campaigns).
The Chambers support the continued implementation of effective tax credits as a means of maintaining Oklahoma's competitiveness with surrounding states and to continue attracting high-quality jobs for our citizens. In particular, we support the Quality Jobs Program (QJP); the 21st Century QJP; the Qualified Rehabilitation Expenditures for Historic Buildings incentive and the Investment/New Jobs Tax Credit.
The Chambers support funding the Governor's Quick Action Closing Fund provided the safeguards currently in HB 1953 remain in place and measurable employee, salary and capital investment targets are implemented to ensure accountability and transparency in project selection.
Oklahoma Quality Events Act
The Chambers support full implementation of the Oklahoma Quality Events Act.
The Chambers will work with all significant stakeholders to examine the benefits and consequences of updating the state's liquor laws.
EDGE Endowment Fund
The Chambers advocate protecting the Economic Development Generating Excellence (EDGE) fund from being repealed or borrowed from and support identifying a permanent funding source to allow the fund to reach $1 billion.
The Chambers advocate full funding for programs managed by OCAST, including the Seed Capital Fund and other programs managed by i2E, to support the creation and growth of small businesses and jobs in Oklahoma.
Bridge Improvement & Turnpike Modernization Plan
The Chambers support Gov. Fallin's Bridge Improvement & Turnpike Modernization Plan to repair or replace all of Oklahoma's structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges by 2019 and to expand the Creek and Kilpatrick Turnpikes provided that it does not negatively impact funding levels for education.
Existing Road Funding
The Chambers will defend all existing road funding; prevent any diversion of monies; and support increased funding for transportation by developing an adequate, comprehensive funding strategy to broaden the sources of funds and increase the total amount going to transportation statewide.
The Chambers support efforts made by the state legislature to secure transportation funding and preserve ODOT's eight-year construction work plan. We support methods to expedite the critical need for weigh station completion and weigh-in-motion infrastructure that protect road and bridge quality from overweight freight traveling through the state.
Workers' Compensation Reform
The Chambers believe additional reforms to the state's workers' compensation laws are necessary to protect business and improve our state's competitive position for economic development. However, we believe the impact of the reforms enacted during the 2011 legislative session should be evaluated before additional reforms are pursued.
The Chambers believe additional lawsuit reforms should be considered to help foster a positive business environment in Oklahoma.
The Chambers support passage of legislative initiatives which will enhance implementation of Gov. Fallin's college degree completion plan, helping to reduce and eliminate Oklahoma's critical shortage of highly skilled and educated workers.
The Chambers support passage of the legislation that will allow the State Department of Education to create an in-state grant program to encourage incentive programs.
The Chambers support legislation to define curriculum and academic requirements that will allow students (older and secondary) to earn academic credit via online courses. We support legislation only if online education providers meet academic content, rigor and assessments requirements similar to public schools. We also support legislation that clarifies the rules governing online/virtual schools, enrollment periods and that creates transparency for providers, school districts and parents.
The Chambers support legislation that facilitates increasing instruction time in the classroom and time on-task. This may include additional days and/or additional hours in the instructional day.
The Chambers support utilization of the National Board Certification (NBCT) model as a basis for creating high performing teachers but encourage these reforms:
The Chambers oppose illegal immigration. We support 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 Chambers believe that immigration policy should be set by the federal government and support comprehensive reform at that level that recognizes the need for essential workers so the U.S. can continue to attract the best and brightest talent from around the world.
The Chambers support protecting and strengthening the financial condition of the state's pension plans by requiring existing pension benefit obligations to be satisfactorily funded before adopting additional benefit improvements.
The Chambers will encourage members of Congress to restrict federal agency rulemaking authority so that rules potentially resulting in a strong detrimental economic impact to the business community are required to produce a proven environmental benefit in order to be passed. This includes, but is not limited to, regulatory initiatives related to the regulation of ozone levels, carbon and greenhouse gases and water.
The Chambers support fair and equal treatment of local business through the passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act, allowing collection of sales tax from online sales and preventing the further erosion of our local merchants' competitiveness.
The Chambers support timely reauthorization of the multi-year surface transportation act and securing a permanent and adequate funding solution for the Highway Trust Fund.
The Chambers will work to attain Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approval of the Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program (SHOPP).
The Chambers support the development of an intermodal transportation system, including streets, transit, express buses, ports, airports, and rail.
The Chambers support the creation of an Oklahoma-led and private sector-based state health insurance network that will provide a marketplace for Oklahomans and serve to prevent the imposition of burdensome federal mandates upon the State of Oklahoma required under the current federal health care law.
Because HB 1381 (the SHOPP Act) expires in 2014, the Chambers support a long-term solution to fund the state's Medicaid through full reimbursement funding for Medicaid services provided to the federal upper payment limit (UPL). The Chambers further support setting the Medicaid reimbursement rate for physicians at no less than 100 percent of Medicare rates.
The Chambers oppose new health insurance mandates and liability that will undermine an employer's ability to provide quality health insurance at reasonable cost to employees.
The Chambers support incentives to recruit and retain primary care physicians and allied health professionals in Oklahoma, especially in rural and underserved areas, through expansion of residency programs in the state's medical schools, scholarships, loan forgiveness and other incentives. The Chamber further supports efforts to identify new funding streams dedicated to this initiative.
For more information, please contact a member of our Government Relations staff.