Thursday, January 6, 2022
The Chamber’s board of directors recently adopted a comprehensive set of public policy priorities that are crucial to creating a strong future for Oklahoma businesses. Below is an excerpt of key priorities. Read the full list at okcchamber.com/legislative.
The Chamber supports allowing each company/business to determine whether to mandate vaccinations for its employees.
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:
The Chamber will support efforts to reinstate the Tax Credit for Energy Efficient Homes.
The Chamber will work with the City of Oklahoma City, the State Fairgrounds and other stakeholders to pursue state ARPA funding for economic development and other appropriate projects in central Oklahoma.
The Chamber supports the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the responsible expansion of gun-owners' 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 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.
The Chamber supports legislation to address issues related to the state’s medical marijuana industry, including: 1) unlicensed growers/black market sales; 2) illegal land purchases; 3) damaging use of pesticides; and 4) uncontrolled water use.
The Chamber acknowledges challenges of the pandemic, including remote learning and technology access, led to learning loss for many students. We know that prior to the pandemic not enough students were achieving advanced or proficient test scores and 2020-21 test scores indicate lower performance. It is urgent to dramatically improve learning at all levels. The Chamber supports sustained help for additional and enhanced learning opportunities that utilize recognized best practices. We believe it is important to help students catch-up by having more time on-task, including longer school days and additional instruction days.
The Chamber urges the higher education system to pursue significant reform to better meet employer needs. The business community supports the following reforms.
• Higher education funding specifically directed to produce graduates with degrees in critical occupations such as engineering, nursing and information technology/software
• Increased accountability and annual metrics that motivates institutions to increase the number of graduates in critical occupation degrees by 20% within four years
• Innovative approaches to curriculum and degree offerings, such as reducing non-critical occupation degree programs and creation of non-degree programs/certificates that create a workforce with needed skills
• Efforts to maximize funding through consolidation and sharing of services, programs and instructors
• New partnerships between four-year institutions, CareerTechs and community colleges that enable schools to share resources, staff and facilities
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 dialogue and efforts to most effectively address the state’s total health care needs on a systemwide 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 provides.
The Chamber supports local public health efforts/responses and the independence of the Oklahoma City County Health Department.
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 employer’s ability to offer affordable health benefits due to a reduced ability to control benefit plans relating to prescription drugs.
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
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. Furthermore, the Chamber supports designation of the Oklahoma City-Newton, KS line as a national Amtrak route. This would strategically address a significant gap in the national Amtrak rail system map and assist with Federal/State burden/cost-sharing to help ensure the viability of passenger rail.
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.
The Chamber will speak on behalf of its members at the State Capitol throughout the legislative session. To stay informed of their efforts, sign up for alerts at okcbusinessadvocate.com.