Workers’ Comp Reform Is A Top Issue On State Chamber Of Oklahoma's Agenda


Oklahoma City, OK ( - Complex issues like taxation, workers' compensation reform and health care are among some of the top issues The State Chamber of Oklahoma will be advocating at the state Capitol this year on behalf of the organization's 2100 statewide members.

“Heading in to the 2012 legislative session, it is critical that our state leaders and lawmakers once again keep the legislative session focused on jobs and our state's economy,” said State Chamber President Fred Morgan. “Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders have made tremendous strides over the last year in economic development and improving our state's business climate, but these efforts must continue this session and beyond.”The most contested issue this session will likely be dealing with how the state's tax system should be structured.

As part of its 2012 Business Agenda, The State Chamber will work to ensure the intangible property tax issue is permanently addressed. Intangible property can include items like trademarks, copyrights, and membership or client lists, all of which are difficult to quantify. If left unresolved, this would equate to the largest tax increase in state history for businesses.

The State Chamber also supports the restructuring of Oklahoma's tax system to allow for the gradual reduc¬tion of the state's personal income tax with assurances that the tax burden will not be shifted onto businesses, including any new taxes on services.

The continuation of economic development incentives that provide a net-benefit or return on investment to the state will also be a top priority this year.

“We have to remain competitive with other states and the rest of the world when it comes to attracting jobs and investment to our state,” said State Chamber Chairman Bill Burgess. “There are ways to make these credits transparent and accountable so the taxpayers are confident the incentives are serving their intended purpose. We look forward to working with the governor and legislative leaders on this important economic development issue this session.”

Escalating workers' compensation and health insurance costs are often mentioned as two of the top concerns of State Chamber members. As such, The State Chamber helped create the Oklahomans for Free Market Health Solutions coalition, which is working to preserve the private sector insurance market and private business roles in a state-initiated, internet-based health insurance delivery system rather than a federally-mandated exchange.

The State Chamber is also working with a coalition supporting legislation to allow Oklahoma employers to obtain alternative coverage in providing workers' compensation, as long as they provide equivalent benefits to protect their workers.

Other issues on The State Chamber's 2012 Business Agenda include:

  • Economic Development: fund the Governor's Quick Action Closing Fund, enabling the state to respond quickly to economic op¬portunities and compete effectively
  • Lawsuit Reform: ensure transparency when the state uses private attorneys on a contingency-fee basis
  • Energy: support a tax structure and policies that encourage greater development and use of Oklahoma's natural resources
  • Water: support the approval of only those portions of the revised Comprehensive Water Plan that meet the needs of Oklahoma's citizens and assure adequate water to grow our state's economy
  • Transportation: support the passage of the Bridge Improvement and Turnpike Modernization Plan that would, upon completion, bring the number of currently known structurally deficient highway bridges to less than 1 percent
  • Education: expand Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education programs in all levels of education

“This legislative agenda is reflective of the needs of Oklahoma businesses to help them grow and create more jobs in our state,” said State Chamber Chairman-Elect Hastings Siegfried. “We know our state and legislative leaders are committed to growing our state's economy, and we look forward to working with them this legislative session to create a business environment that is second to none worldwide.”

To see the full State Chamber 2012 Business Agenda, click here

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