03.19.2010

Legislative Benefactors

Important meeting notice: The Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission will host their third, and possibly final, PlaniTulsa meeting on Tues., March 23 from 6-8 p.m. on the second floor at City Hall. It is crucial members of the business community be in attendance to let your voice be heard on this very important plan that will help shape Tulsa’s future for years to come. To learn more about the meeting, read the following Tulsa World articles:

"More time requested on city plan"

"Why hurry? Plan delay reasonable"

Register at OneVoiceTulsa.com today and receive breaking news alerts on critical legislative topics. The effectiveness of the Chamber's advocacy efforts with this powerful tool depends on member participation. In addition to legislative alerts, OneVoiceTulsa.com includes an Action Center with the Chamber's ongoing policy priorities, the complete OneVoice agenda, Legislative Updates and it provides the status of bills effecting Tulsa area businesses.

Also, mark your calendar for the following upcoming legislative events:

    • Legislative Briefing on Fri., March 26 from 7:30 - 9 a.m. at the Hilton Tulsa Southern Hills will provide a mid-session update.
    • Tulsa Regional Day at the Capitol on Wed., April 14 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City.

Visit TulsaChamber.com to register for these events and more online or contact Elaine Walsh at elainewalsh@tulsachamber.com or 918.560.0298.

Status of the OneVoice agenda bills is listed below. Also listed, are other legislative issues that have risen to the top and may be of interest.

For more information on the Tulsa Metro Chamber’s Legislative agenda and priorities, contact the Government Affairs office at 560-0211 or email Vice President of Government Affairs Gwendolyn Caldwell at gwendolyncaldwell@tulsachamber.com

To view the 2010 Legislative Agenda: click here. 




Building the Gilcrease Expressway and Bridge

SB 1764 Bingman/Benge – Referred to House Committee on Transportation
HB 3220 Benge/Bingman – Referred to Senate Committee on Appropriations

OneVoice priority

Building the Gilcrease Expressway and Bridge through any funding mechanism available is a top priority for the Tulsa Metro Chamber. To expedite this long overdue transportation system, a partnership with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority may be beneficial. The original expressway master plan for the Tulsa region included the Gilcrease Expressway, which is the only remaining uncompleted portion of the planned system's outer loop on the west side. It is important to complete this leg of the expressway system to provide needed access, support growth, improve connections for manufacturing, relieve traffic capacity and congestion problems, and improve public safety for the region. Getting the expressway on the state highway system or getting authorization for an analysis by the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is of primary importance. We must also secure funds to build a bridge across the Arkansas River, for which local funds are being secured to complete a traffic and revenue study.
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OSU Medical Center

OneVoice Priority
Last year the legislature made a commitment to support operations at the OSU Medical Center with $5 million each year for five years; this will be the second year. A group of concerned citizens and organizations, including the Chamber, continue to monitor legislators' support and stay in contact with Speaker Chris Benge and President Pro Tempore Glen Coffee who are leading the effort to secure the much needed appropriation for the OSU Medical Center.

While the vehicle to insert the language that would contain this money has changed and a new one has not yet been identified, the commitment continues to stay strong. Speaker Benge was quoted at the Tulsa Metro Chamber's Legislative Briefing in February as stating "We do have the second $5 million installment and hope to have the third by the end of the fiscal year."
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Local Government Funding

HB 3054, Benge/Lamb – First Reading in Senate

OneVoice Agenda
Speaker Benge has filed a bill creating the Municipal Fiscal Impact Act to limit the number of unfunded mandates passed on to municipalities. The House and Senate leadership have also expressed support of a legislative interim study on municipal finance and efforts to expand municipalities' ability to use new sources of revenue to fund local government. Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that requires its municipalities to operate on a single source of revenue - sales tax. This leaves municipalities' budgets subject to large fluctuations based on the economy. The consequence of this is a focus by cities on growing retail sales often to the detriment of other economic development initiatives. Cities need access to other resources to balance their revenue streams and to protect them from major shifts. Oklahoma's municipal funding model is archaic and does not serve the state's long-term interests.

SB 1850 Sykes/Terrill – Referred to House Committee on Appropriations and Budget

Tulsa Metro Chamber Concern

Expands the Back to School Sales Tax Holiday to include school supplies, computers, computer supplies, and clothing to the list of items exempt from sales tax during the sales tax holiday. This would further erode municipalities' revenue.

SB 1328, Gumm/Terrill – Referred to House Committee on Appropriations and Budget

Tulsa Metro Chamber Concern

Eliminates Sales tax on food and beverages. Again, with municipalities' inability to use new sources of revenue this further shrinks the single source of funds they do receive.
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Road Funding

SB1941, Marlatt/Nelson – House Committee on Transportation

OneVoice priority
Creates the Innovative Funding for Oklahoma Roads Task Force to study and evaluate innovations, technologies and new methods being employed to more adequately and equitably fund road and bridge infrastructure.

HB 2987, Enns - Dead due to lack of hearing in committee

OneVoice concern
Last year the legislature increased penalties on late vehicle registration. The original intent of the bill was to have this additional money put into the state Highway Construction and Maintenance Fund. However, a last minute deal was struck to divert that money for one year to the Rural Economic Action Plan. House Bill 2987 would extend the diversion of that money to the REAP fund indefinitely rather than use it on road funding. Several area groups, including the Tulsa Metro Chamber, are working hard to defend existing road funding and fight against any diversion of those funds.
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Education

OneVoice priority
There are several bills that have been filed to competitively position Oklahoma schools and colleges to receive Race to the Top Funds including removing barriers to charters statewide and restrictive state policies and promoting teacher effectiveness.

Charter School bill

HB 2753, Denney – Referred to Senate Committee on Education


This bill essentially would allow charter schools to be established statewide by eliminating the requirement that a charter school be in a district of greater than 5,000 students and greater than 500,000 residents and removing the limit of only three charters schools opening per year.

SB 1862, Coffee – Referred to House Committee on Common Education

Amends the Charter School Act to allow Indian tribes and cities with more than 300,000 to sponsor a charter school when the charter school is located within a school district that has a daily average membership of 5,000 or more.

Performance Pay

HB 2836, Sears/Ford – Passed Senate Subcommittee on Education and sent to full committee


Creates a teacher performance pay grant.

SB 2033, Coffee/Benge – Referred to House Committee on Appropriations and Budget

This bill amends the teacher incentive pay plan.

Rigor and ACE standards

SB 1610, Halligan/Coody – Referred to House Committee on Common Education


Joint Tulsa Metro/OKC Chamber priority
This bill increases the number of required math courses from three to four units for ninth graders entering on or after the 2010-2011 school year.

Oppose Unfunded Mandates

HB 3384 Terrill/Sykes – First Reading in Senate

Tulsa Metro Chamber concern

This bill creates the "Quality of Education assessment of Oklahoma Citizens Act of 2010." This would require elementary and secondary schools to determine the citizenship status of enrolled students. It would require parents to notify the school of citizenship or immigration status of a child and require the schools to report the data annually.
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Workers' Compensation Reform

OneVoice priority
Support reform of the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation system to: promote workplace safety; provide an efficient, cost effective system which lowers administrative and legal costs to employers; and increases benefits to injured workers to help them recover from workplace injuries for a timely return to work.

SB 1973, Coffee – Referred to House Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services

This is an omnibus reform bill that includes amending the composition of the court to eight judges with three permanently assigned to the Tulsa court and sets term limits. It also creates and defines a medical director and defines "major cause" as more than 50 percent.

HB 2652, Sullivan – Scheduled to be heard in Senate Judiciary on March 23

Clarifies the definition for "surgery" in Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Act. Also clarifies that employees are not eligible for permanent impairment unless there is medical evidence of a permanent abnormality.

SJR 66, Coffee – Referred to House Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services

Limits the amount in claims for legal services for workers' compensation benefits.
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There are also four bills dealing with CompSource

The task force created in 2009 that looked at the possibilities of privatization or mutualization of CompSource reconvened on Monday afternoon. It was stated by the chairs of the task force, Rep. Dan Sullivan and Sen. Cliff Aldridge, that more time is needed to study the issue so no action will take place this legislative session. The only steps on this issue that will be taken will be to expend the deadline of the task force for an additional year. This language will be inserted in a bill to be identified later.

SB 2232, Aldridge/Sullivan - Dead due to lack of hearing in the Senate

Sell CompSource Oklahoma to the highest bidder by Dec. 31, 2011. All proceeds will be retained by the state of Oklahoma. This bill will also mandate volunteer fire departments to obtain workers' compensation insurance through the successor of CompSource.

HB 2662, Sullivan - Dead due to lack of hearing in the House

Sells CompSource Oklahoma and all its assets to the highest bidder by Dec. 31, 2011. Upon sale of CompSource, any employee not hired by the successor company shall have priority for positions in other agencies of the state.

SB 1996 Coffee/Benge – Referred to House Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services

Amends language to set up for the privatization of CompSource. This passed to keep the vehicle alive. Possible vehicle for the extension of the task force.
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Oklahoma Quality Events Bill

SB 1284, Stanislawski/Liebmann – Referred to House committee on Appropriations and Budget

OneVoice & Joint Tulsa/OKC Chamber Priority
In order for Oklahoma to become an attractive destination site for quality events, we need to do more to allow Oklahoma to be competitive in the area of recruiting major events. The Oklahoma tourism industry generates $5.3 billion annually and that number can grow if communities have the financial ability to bid on nationally appealing conventions, shows and events with competing states like Texas and Arkansas. Incorporating a Quality Events Incentive is a logical way to bring money back into the state through increased sales tax revenue and put Oklahoma on a level playing field for tourism, hospitality and convention business.
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Provider Fee

OneVoice Priority
Oklahoma has not provided sufficient state funds to secure all the federal health care funds allocated to the state; last year $250 million was left on the table. Given the state's budget situation close attention needs to be given to other sources of funding for the state to increase the match to secure higher levels of federal funding. Possible solutions might be a small fee on providers to secure more SCHIP, DSH and UPL funding from the federal government, which provides nearly a 2:1 match. Tobacco revenue has funded Insure Oklahoma, but that source is nearly tapped out. One solution is to assess a small fee on claims paid to raise sufficient money to continue to expand the program. Oklahoma's high rate of uninsured places huge demands on our safety net providers. Securing more federal funding would greatly alleviate this problem.
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Workforce Development Act

HB 3287, McNiel – Referred to Senate Committee on Appropriations

Tulsa Metro Chamber and Joint Tulsa/OKC Chamber Priority

Support the expansion of HB 3239 to include more demand occupations. The success of Oklahoma's business retention and expansion initiatives is dependent on providing a bountiful workforce in skilled occupations. The growth of openings in demand occupations coupled with declining graduation rates in technical degree programs and the impending retirement of baby boomers creates a critical need to be proactive in creating Oklahoma's competitive advantage. We must identify ways to retain and attract skilled workers and provide additional training for our underemployed workforce to secure our state's economic success.
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Energy

OneVoice Priority
Support development of renewable and alternative energy source development in addition to encouraging continued development of conventional energy sources.

HB 3028, Benge/Meyers - Referred to Senate committee on Energy and Environment


Creates the Oklahoma Energy Security Act, which will create a natural gas standard, maximize the use of natural gas, and establish an infrastructure to expand on a verbal goal from the previous year to establish a fueling station within every 50 miles of highway.
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Opportunity Fund

HB 3288, McNiel/Newberry – Referred to Senate Finance committee

This bill has changed to a bill that creates a task force to look at the Oklahoma Quality Investment Act.

Tulsa Metro Chamber and Joint Tulsa/OKC Chamber Priority
The Tulsa Metro Chamber supports the establishment of an economic development program funded by annual state appropriations to create a project or "deal closing" fund to attract, grow and retain businesses in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma suffers from the ability to secure major economic development projects in the state due to constitutional conflicts surrounding the Opportunity Fund or "deal-closing" fund. As soon as the governance issues are resolved, a permanent funding source should be identified to attract business and significantly increase workforce population and economic development. Creating access to this fund allows our state to be more strategic and leverage the existing infrastructure of regions and cities. The Opportunity Fund has not been replenished, which therefore creates an inequity for Oklahoma when competing with other states in recruiting new and maintaining existing business.
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Office of Accountability, Innovation and Privatization

SB 646, Coffee/Benge - In conference

Joint Tulsa/OKC Priority
Support the enactment of the Accountability, Innovation and Privatization Act. This measure, introduced in 2009, would require performance audits to be conducted on state agencies, periodic review of tax incentives, and the study of privatizing certain government assets and services.
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Heath Care Mandates

Tulsa Metro Chamber and Joint Tulsa/OKC Chamber Concern
The Chamber opposes additional benefits mandates because they raise the cost of insurance coverage for the business community. Businesses prefer to invest in benefits packages at their discretion rather than being forced to buy more expensive coverage or refrain from providing insurance at all.


SB 1251 Wilson/Brown

Referred to House Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services
This bill would mandate that no health benefit plan shall deny coverage to a person who has been a victim of domestic abuse.
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General Business, Economic Development & Tax Issues

HB 3053, Ownby/Crutchfield – Referred to Senate Committee on Transportation

Tulsa Metro Chamber concern

This bill mandates the government sell back land acquired through eminent domain if not utilized for its intended use within 10 years. The acquiring agency must offer it back to the person the land was acquired from at its original price, and if rejected, sold in public sale.


SJR 61, Coffee – Referred to House Committee on Appropriations and Budget

Tulsa Metro Chamber Priority
This bill would create a task force to look at the intangible property tax issue.


SB 2166, Branan/Nelson – Referred to House Judiciary Committee

Tulsa Metro Chamber Priority

This bill would help cities enforce collection of taxes by making failure or refusal to pay over to the appropriate authority any tax or other monies collected in accordance with municipal ordinance constituting a fraud.


SB 1970, Lamb/McNiel – Referred to House Committee on Economic Development and Financial Services

Tulsa Metro Chamber Priority
This is a bill that will help companies avoid massive layoffs by reducing workers' hours. Seventeen other states have adopted this legislation that would create a Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program. It allows certain employees to receive unemployment benefits if the employer participates in the program.

HB2910, Morgan/Bingman – Referred to Senate Appropriations Committee

Tulsa Metro Chamber Supports
State agencies will give preference for contracts first to goods and services produced in state, then to goods and services produced out of state.


HB 2617, Proctor - Dead due to lack of hearing in the House

Tulsa Metro Chamber Concern
This bill would require taxpayers that receive incentives pay or reduction in tax liability for job creation to repay the amount if they relocate out of the country within five years.

HB 3236, Jackson/Newberry; Referred to Senate Committee on General Government

Tulsa Metro Chamber supports
This bill will help clarify many issues on the statewide level and help communities that are interested in assessing itself to provide services that are viewed to be beyond what a local municipality can provide with general tax dollars.
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Transportation

HB 3291, McNiel/Justice – Referred to Senate Appropriations Committee

This bill creates the Local Economic Action and Development Act. Qualified entities may apply for a grant to benefit an unincorporated area within a county served by that entity if the area benefited does not contain a population in excess of 7,000 people.

SB 1773, Brogdon/Murphey - Failed to Pass 17-29

Tulsa Metro Chamber concern
Requires two-thirds majority in both legislative houses before the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority can issue certain revenue bonds or raise change toll amounts.





We would like to acknowledge the Chamber's partners in legislative success who have shown a continued commitment to the communities within the Tulsa region:




Tulsa Metro Chamber
2 West 2nd St. Suite 150
Tulsa, OK 74103
918-585-1201





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