2021 Legislative Agenda

2021 Public Policy Priorities

2021 Greater OKC Chamber General Priorities

STATE ISSUES

County Government Reform
The Chamber supports empowering Oklahoma counties to alter their form of government to meet their unique needs.

Workers’ Comp Reform
The Chamber supports defending and improving the comprehensive workers’ compensation reform legislation enacted during the 2013 session.

Economic Development Programs
The Chamber supports retaining and strengthening 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 seek 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
  • Cyber-security/Software Engineer Tax Credit
  • Five-year ad valorem abatement and sales tax exemption for manufacturing facilities
  • Regional Home Office Insurance Premium Tax Credit

The Chamber supports adapting Oklahoma’s film incentive program to encourage production companies and studios to bring multiple films/projects to the state.

The Chamber will support efforts to reinstate the Tax Credit for Energy Efficient Homes and to protect the Affordable Housing Tax Credit.

Broadband/Data Privacy
The Chamber:

  • Supports protecting Oklahoma’s pro-investment environment to facilitate the development of telecommunication infrastructure
  • Supports efforts to remove barriers to broadband access in Oklahoma such as ensuring providers are reasonably charged for use of the public rights of way and facilities within the rights of way
  • Supports common sense protections against the unauthorized collection or sale of personal data and opposes state-level efforts that conflict with federal laws and regulations regarding data privacy

Legal Reform
The Chamber supports the following legal reforms:

  • Amending public and private nuisance laws to avoid misuse
  • Placing a reasonable limit on non-economic damages

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.

Wind Subsidies
The Chamber supports ending the Manufacturer’s Sales Tax Exemption for new wind facilities and requiring the Zero-Emissions Tax Credit to be claimed only as a credit and not as a refund.

Gun Legislation
The Chamber supports the 2nd 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 (many of which are required by contract to prohibit weapons), including Horse Shows, the Oklahoma State Fair, Olympic Qualifying on the Oklahoma River, High School Basketball and Wrestling Tournaments at the State Fairgrounds and NCAA and Big XII sporting events.

The Chamber will oppose legislation to allow guns to be carried on college campuses.

The Chamber will lead the efforts of the “Oklahomans for Business and Property Owners’ Rights” coalition to defend against harmful gun legislation and 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, ensuring the protection of property rights and public safety.

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).

The Chamber also supports: 1) continuing smart sentencing reform; 2) improving bail and jail practices; 3) making reentry and supervision improvements to reduce fines and fees, enhance workforce opportunities and increase public safety; and 4) securing additional treatment funding.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The Chamber understands the importance of a diverse and inclusive community. We recognize the power of diversity is released when we respect and value differences. The business community will strive to be an effective partner in creating dialogue and finding solutions to issues around inclusive economic development, equitable business practices and criminal justice reform. The Chamber supports:

  • Growing minority businesses
  • Practices that enable inclusive hiring and retention
  • Providing education, learning and training opportunities for everyone
  • Building a diverse and culturally sensitive workforce

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

Paid Family Leave Mandates
The Chamber opposes state legislation to create a paid family leave program mandating participation by private sector employers that goes beyond federal level requirements.

Medical Marijuana
The chamber supports additional legislation to protect an employer’s’ right to maintain a drug-free workplace, enforce policies to prohibit employee impairment during work hours and other business friendly reforms.

Water
The Chamber will work with the Governor, State Legislature, City of OKC 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/OCAST
The Chamber supports continued funding for i2E programs, including the Seed Capital Fund.

The Chamber encourages the State of Oklahoma to invest in OCAST’s support of small and medium size companies. By funding advanced research & development through Industry Innovation, OCAST can stimulate public-private collaboration and financial resources resulting in the greatest potential for commercialization aiding a company’s ability to economically recover and compete in the global marketplace.

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.

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

2021 Greater OKC Chamber Education & 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. This should include increasing the minimum number of instructional hours, currently 1,080 hours, required for a complete school year.  

Teacher Preparation, Recruitment and Retention
Oklahoma has a teacher shortage. Oklahoma’s teacher preparation system needs to be improved in order to train, attract and retain high-quality teachers. We support legislation to:

  • Reward teacher performance and experience
  • Incentivize teachers to work in high priority areas and receive training to help them prepare for challenges facing students such as being English Language Learners, living in high poverty and from urban areas
  • Grow alternative pathways, such as Teach for America and the Foundation for OKCPS Bilingual & Diversity Teacher Pipeline program, that enhance the diversity of the teaching profession
  • Provide additional pre- and post-school year training for alternatively certified teachers

Funding Transparency to Highlight Classroom Spending
Business leaders want education funding to focus on improving quality of instruction in the classroom. We support increasing 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 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 online charter schools, schools designed to meet the needs of targeted underserved populations or schools that 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 2021 budget request.

Specialty Schools
We support state funding for schools that target the specific needs of students experiencing homelessness. 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 will oppose legislation to permit carrying of firearms at early childhood, pre-K-12, colleges and career tech facilities. We will oppose efforts to remove or replace the ability of career tech and higher education institutions to regulate firearms on campus.

Teacher Wellness and Health
We believe our schools should provide a safe and healthy work and learning environment. This includes enabling schools to prevent spread of illness and minimize teacher absences by encouraging all school personnel to take precautionary steps including getting vaccinated.

Mental Health Needs
Oklahoma students face a high level of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We support additional focus and support of initiatives to address the mental and behavioral health of students. This includes new innovation and services from the State Dept. of Education and Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Concurrent Enrollment & Work-based Learning
The Chamber recognizes the excellent learning opportunities offered at our four year universities, community colleges and career techs. Students should be allowed and encouraged to begin pursuit of a degree or other certification while still in high school. They reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a degree or certificate at a post-secondary institution, which reduces costs and speeds entry into the workforce. We support fully funding access for seniors and expanding access to concurrent enrollment for high school juniors as funding is available. We also support efforts to increase work-based learning opportunities that prepare young people for careers.

Higher Education – Reform and Investment
The Chamber recognizes a high-quality higher education system is critical to economic growth. Oklahoma City continues to struggle with meeting the workforce needs of its employers, particularly in Critical Occupations (as defined by www.oklahomaworks.gov/criticaloccupations) that require a higher education degree. The business community, governments and higher education will continue to face financial challenges and we all must be innovative and flexible to meet the needs of our customers and achieve our mission. This should include development of partnerships that produce tech transfer and research partnerships that can help generate private, federal and foundation revenue.

We urge the higher education system to pursue significant reform in order to better meet the needs of employers. The business community supports the following reforms.

  • Higher education funding specifically directed to produce graduates with degrees in high demand jobs such as engineering, computer/software/IT fields, and key medical/nursing areas
  • Funding will require that institutions receiving funding be required to submit a plan to increase its graduates in critical occupation degrees by 20% within four years
  • All plans must include annual measurable action steps that will produce a 20% increase in graduates with Critical Occupation degrees
  • We support funding coming from the consolidation of higher education institutions and the reduction of non-critical occupation degree programs

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. The business community urges the system to focus on producing a workforce that can meet the needs of high-demand occupations.

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

 

2021 Greater OKC Chamber Health Care Priorities

STATE ISSUES

Medicaid Reform
As the state seeks to improve health outcomes and to modernize payment models to incentivize value within the state’s Medicaid system, the Chamber supports protecting current revenue streams and dialogue/efforts to most effectively address the state’s total health care needs on a system-wide basis.

The Chamber supports protecting the current Medicaid supplemental payments or equivalent programs to our state’s medical schools and their hospital partners to ensure uninterrupted funding for medical education and the other unique services each provide.

Expanded Health Insurance Coverage for Oklahomans
The Chamber supports efforts by the state to efficiently enroll all newly-eligible Medicaid individuals to the state’s Medicaid program pursuant to the passage of SQ 802.

Insure Oklahoma
The Chamber supports continued efforts to protect, preserve and further improve Employer Sponsored Insurance (ESI) offered under Insure Oklahoma.

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.

Network Protection
The Chamber opposes legislation which would eliminate the incentive for medical providers to contract with managed care networks and, as a result, potentially frustrate efforts at cost and quality control and ultimately deny consumers the benefits of cost-reducing arrangements with providers.

The Chamber further opposes legislation that would interfere with an employers’ ability to offer affordable health benefits due to a reduced ability to control benefit plans relating to prescription drugs.

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, underserved and other 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 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 state Medicaid budget that would increase the burden of uncompensated care and shift costs to employers and health care providers.

Wellness and Prevention
The Chamber supports the following initiatives including wellness, disease prevention and care programs that serve to improve the physical, behavioral and mental health of Oklahoma citizens: tobacco prevention programs; efforts to mitigate the harmful health effects of e-cigarettes/vaping; public outreach initiatives; efforts to address health disparities; and, workplace and school-based wellness, health education and healthy eating programs.

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.

Clean Indoor Air
The Chamber supports legislation to make all indoor areas smoke free; as well as legislation to remove smokers as a protected class in state employment law.

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 excessive 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.

Research and Development
The Chamber supports efforts to foster a federal policy environment that is conducive to further research and will oppose efforts to unreasonably restrict the continued development of national bioscience and research programs.

 

2021 Greater OKC Chamber Transportation Priorities

STATE ISSUES

Major Projects
The Chamber will advocate for full funding and timely completion of work on the following major interchanges/projects:

  • I-44/I-235 Interchange
  • I-240/I-35 (Crossroads Interchange)
  • I-35/I-44 (Remington Park)
  • I-44/I-40 (K Interchange/Near State Fairgrounds) West to MacArthur on I-40
  • Necessary improvements to I-40 corridor east of I-35 (Tinker Air Force Base) including expansion of I-40 facility to six lanes from Douglas Boulevard to Shawnee
  • I-35/I-40 Dallas Junction and I-35 (including Oklahoma River Bridges)
  • Future development of I-44 corridor from I-40 to SH-62, including SH 152/Airport Road, (southwest OKC to Newcastle) to better provide for future mobility needs due to ongoing commercial expansion

Regional Study
The Chamber supports the ODOT/OTA regional transportation study being undertaken with municipal partners with the objective of identifying, maximizing, preserving and protecting existing transportation assets. The Chamber further supports this study’s ultimate strategic goal to create additional transportation capacity as a means to protect and maximize the integrity of the entire regional transportation system.

State Turnpike Plan
The Chamber supports ongoing robust efforts to develop a highly effective and viable state turnpike system.

The Chamber further supports turnpike planning consideration to include widening the Turner Turnpike, as an innovation corridor, to six lanes from the current construction at mile post 203 extending west to Oklahoma City.

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

State Bridges
The Chamber supports providing adequate annual dedicated funding for ODOT to maintain continued investment toward addressing Oklahoma’s structurally deficient bridges on the state’s highway system, 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 and equitable funding alternatives in support of transportation infrastructure.

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.

The Chamber supports the development and implementation of ODOT’s Long Range Transit Plan through the Office of Mobility and Public Transit.

Heartland Flyer
Passenger rail service is a key component of the continued viability 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.

Interstate Commerce
The Chamber opposes legislation to limit the ability of Class 1 and short line railroads to conduct interstate commerce.

The Chamber supports development of technology and effective transportation strategies to increase the safety and efficiency of interstate commerce. For example, the Chamber supports existing state law allowing for the platooning of semi-trucks.

ODOT Rail Plans
The Chamber supports implementation of the Oklahoma State Rail Plan and Oklahoma Freight Transportation Plan developed by ODOT.

Seat Belt Law to Protect Childhood Safety
The Chamber supports passage of a new state law to require 8-17 year olds to wear seat belts while being transported in the back seat.

MUNICIPAL ISSUES

Oklahoma River Bridges
The Chamber supports construction of clear span bridges on Interstate 35 across the Oklahoma River.  Replacing existing river bridges with iconic bridges would showcase Oklahoma City at the confluence of two major U.S. interstate highways (Interstates 35/40) and facilitate increased sporting events and tourism in the boathouse district.

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 component:

  • Commuter Corridors Study update being conducted on behalf of the RTA

The Chamber further supports efforts by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), consisting of six core central Oklahoma cities, to launch future regional transit services. The Chamber will work with the RTA, COTPA, municipal governments, ODOT and Class 1 railroads to conduct early-stage planning for introducing commuter rail service into downtown Oklahoma City from Norman and Edmond with alternative transportation options to Del City 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, inter-city 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 continued 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 (BRT)
The Chamber supports implementing bus rapid transit on key routes in Oklahoma City tied to the 2005 Fixed Guideway Transit Study and updates to that study, and the implementation of future MAPS 4 route updates.

Parking
The Chamber supports continued construction of additional parking and viable park and ride locations, 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

Surface Transportation Funding
The Chamber ultimately supports adequate funding for a multi-year reauthorization of the federal surface transportation bill. In the interim, the Chamber fully supports the FAST Act through 2021 and full funding for the FAST Act through Dec. 11, 2021.

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.

Federal Capital Improvement Grants
The Chamber supports continued funding for SMALL STARTS, NEW STARTS, INFRA, BUILD, bus and bus facilities grants.

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.

Clean Air Nonattainment
The Chamber will work with the Oklahoma congressional delegation, ODOT, ACOG, the City of Oklahoma City, the private sector, and additional partners to take necessary proactive steps to ensure the Greater Oklahoma City region is not designated as being in nonattainment of federal air quality standards.

Freight Rail Regulation
The Chamber opposes any effort by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to impose additional economic or operational regulation on freight rail operators.

For more information, please contact a member of our Government Relations staff.