Oklahoma state legislative session ends
As always, the end of the Oklahoma state legislative session brings a flood of activity spurred by changes and reconsiderations of bills. The Tulsa Metro Chamber ensured the interests of the Tulsa region and the Chamber’s OneVoice legislative agenda were well represented throughout the session.
“Facing record-setting shortfalls, the political climate can simply be described as fervent. Emotions were running high and money was running low,” said Mike Neal, president and CEO. “It’s times like these, the bad and not the good, that a voice for the Tulsa region is more important than ever.”
The team led by Mike Neal, president and CEO, and the Chamber’s Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Tom McKeon, president of Tulsa Community College included: Gwendolyn Caldwell, vice president; Wendy Taylor, program manager; LToya Knighten, program manager; and contract lobbyists Margaret Erling and John Bryant. This group is enhanced by dedicated task force volunteers, Board members, and regional OneVoice partners, which took numerous trips to the State Capitol and visited members of the legislature to advocate on behalf of the Tulsa area.
The Chamber recognizes the great work of Gov. Brad Henry, Speaker of the House Chris Benge, Pro Temp Glenn Coffee, and the entire Oklahoma State delegation for addressing difficult decisions during a tough economy and a limited budget.
“Our program is only as good as the leaders dedicated to making it successful,” said Neal. “We’ve been very fortunate to have a Tulsa area leader as Speaker of the House for the last three years. Rep. Chris Benge is a dynamic leader who was able to accomplish a great deal by maintaining positive relationships beyond party lines. We certainly applaud his leadership and Pro Temp Glenn Coffee. Together, the two worked to the betterment of the State of Oklahoma and their efforts will return huge investments for decades to come.”
Click here to view a comprehensive list of the Chamber’s successful agenda items and the list of issues which will return to Chamber task force volunteers to reintroduce in the session next year.
In the last days of the session, the Chamber successfully converted votes to pass Education Reform (SB 2033) 75-25 after it unexpectedly failed. This reform is tied to teacher performance and creates accountability of which the Chamber has placed on its legislative agenda and advocated for several years.
Senate Bill 1267 proposed a two-year moratorium on certain tax credits, several of which the Chamber considered detrimental to the health of our business community and ultimately our regional economy.
In particular, the Chamber believes the Investment (New Jobs) tax credit, Historical Facility tax credit, and Aerospace Workforce tax credits have fostered new job creation that helped grow and diversify Oklahoma’s economy. Moreover, many companies have made investments that relied upon the existence of these credits. Reduction or removal of these incentives will hinder job creation, decrease the competitiveness of Oklahoma for business and capital investment, and deter economic growth.
The Aerospace Workforce tax credit moratorium was not reconsidered.
“The Chamber worked to create and advocate this tax credit to retain and recruit aerospace engineers. Aerospace is one of Tulsa and Oklahoma’s largest industries and the return on investment of this credit was extremely high” said Neal. “While we are disappointed it was not reconsidered, I feel certain this valuable workforce incentive will appear on the Chamber’s regional legislative agenda next year. We must maintain Oklahoma’s competitiveness for jobs and people.”
Creation and passage of Quality Events was a top priority for the Tulsa Metro Chamber and its regional OneVoice legislative agenda. The Chamber has lobbied for a Quality Events incentive for the last four years.
“This is a huge win for tourism in the Tulsa region and significantly increases Oklahoma’s competitive ability to recruit major meetings, conventions and sporting events. Tulsa’s tourism industry accounts for $1.4 billion in annual economic impact and supports 25,000 regional jobs,” said Neal.
The Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau exceeded its 2009-2010 goal of booking 80,000 future hotel room nights, however, the Quality Events incentive will allow the CVB and Tulsa Sports Commission to identify, and bid on, a whole new level of prospects to fill our hotel rooms, the BOK Center, the Tulsa Convention Center, ONEOK Field, Expo Square, and more. The return on investment to the community in increased tax revenues will directly benefit the city’s and Oklahoma’s bottom line.
Join the Tulsa Metro Chamber for the final Legislative Briefing on Friday, June 4 from 7:30 - 9 a.m. at Tulsa Hilton Southern Hills for a recap of the OneVoice victories and a preview of issues that will be included on next year’s agenda. Register on www.TulsaChamber.com.
Townie Ride fit for all
Be a part of Tulsa Tough Ride & Race this year by participating in the easy, eight-mile Townie Ride on Sunday, June 6 at 2 p.m.
"The Townie Ride is designed to be a family activity," said McCollam. "We want kids, parents, couples, friends - everyone to participate in this non-competitive joy ride."
The eight-mile Townie Ride will start just south of 15th Street and Galveston Avenue on Riverside Drive with a course and purpose designed to cater to all age groups, fitness level and cycling experience. The ride entry fee is $20 for adults, and includes a participant t-shirt. Children aged 12 and under ride free. Free entry does not include a t-shirt, but they will be available for purchase at the ride. All participants will receive a finisher's medal and refreshments at the Zink Park rest stop. Online registration is available at www.tulsatough.com or to register the day of the event, visit the registration table between 11 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. near the start line.
Tulsa Tough Ride & Race, created in 2006 by the Tulsa Sports Commission and the Tulsa Wheelmen, is designed for new and experienced riders through competitive races and tour rides showcasing the beautiful city of Tulsa and surrounding communities. Riders, racers and spectators can participate in a number of events and activities from professional-level races, recreation and tour rides, kids and youth activities to live music and vendors during the three-day cycling event.
Add Tulsa Tough as a friend on facebook and follow @tulsa_tough on twitter for updated news and information about the event. To learn more about the three-day cycling event, visit www.tulsatough.com.
Campaign volunteers outperform previous years
Tulsa Metro Chamber Resource Campaign volunteers celebrated the seventh week of the campaign last week with an incredible feat accomplished.
Thus far, volunteers have yet to raise less than $100,000 in any single week.
“I am in awe,” said Campaign Chair Wade Edmundson, CEO of Summit Bank. “Through your hard work, this year’s campaign continues to break records and by a significant margin. You all should be extremely proud of what you have accomplished on behalf of the Chamber.”
Bonefish Grill was the setting for the $2,189,210 total revealed toward the $2.3 million goal. With three weeks left in the campaign, volunteers have only $110,790 left to raise.
The Chamber's annual Resource Campaign, which generates revenue by selling sponsorships and memberships, officially kicked off on April 6. Approximately 160 volunteers will help raise the $2.3 million goal amount by connecting businesses with Chamber sponsorship opportunities for maximum exposure and return.
If you would like to learn more about available sponsorships or trade opportunities with the Tulsa Metro Chamber, contact Karen Humphrey, campaign director, at email@example.com or call 560-0250.
This annual campaign contributes approximately 23 percent of the Chamber's total annual budget, all of which is directly returned to Chamber members in the form of business-building events and initiatives that benefit the entire community.
Chamber hosts interviews with gubernatorial candidates
This is an historic election year in the state of Oklahoma. Voters will choose candidates for numerous state-wide offices, including two executive offices, governor and lieutenant governor. The Tulsa Metro Chamber Board, leadership and regional partners are working to ensure these candidates are aware of issues of importance to the Tulsa area.
The Chamber invited a panel of board members and regional OneVoice partners to participate in candidate interviews. Two candidates for governor, U.S. Rep Mary Fallin and Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, were interviewed last week. The panel will interview three candidates this week. Candidates to be interviewed include Lt. Gov. Jari Askins (candidate for governor), State Senator Kenneth Corn (candidate for lieutenant gov), State Senator Todd Lamb (candidate for lieutenant governor) and State Representative John Wright (candidate for lieutenant governor).
Chamber office closed for holiday
The Tulsa Metro Chamber offices are closed today, Monday, May 31 in observance of Memorial Day.
We will resume our regular office hours of 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1.
For more information about the Chamber’s program of work visit www.TulsaChamber.com.