Oklahoma's State Chamber releases legislative agenda
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Thursday, January 03, 2013
1/03/13 at 5:38 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Cutting corporate income taxes, rewriting state workers' compensation laws and restricting the lawsuit rights of consumers are on the 2013 legislative agenda of Oklahoma's State Chamber.
A full-throated endorsement of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is not.
The business lobbying group released its legislative program Wednesday.
"We have an ambitious agenda this legislative session, and we look forward to working with our legislators and the governor to move our state forward economically next year," State Chamber President Fred Morgan said.
"Workers' compensation costs have long been the top concern of our members, no matter large or small businesses, or urban or rural. We have to stop tinkering around the edges with our state's broken workers' compensation system and start over with an administrative approach that has seen much success in lowering rates in other states, all while continuing to protect the workers."
The chamber's tax program includes cutting corporate income taxes and protecting economic development incentives, which have been targeted by some lawmakers looking for a way to pay for lower personal income tax rates.
The chamber program includes a broad reworking of workers' compensation laws, including shifting the state's adversarial model to an administrative model and allowing employers to opt out of coverage so long as equivalent benefits protect workers.
The chamber program also calls for restricting consumer lawsuit options when the consumer misuses a product.
The chamber calls for reducing the number of Oklahomans without health insurance by improving the Insure Oklahoma program in a general sense, but does not call for accepting federal funding for Medicaid expansion, saying only that the option should be "considered." The Tulsa Regional Chamber made a much stronger case for Medicaid expansion in its earlier One Voice agenda.
The state chamber also opposes mandated insurance benefit coverage and limitations on access to over-the-counter products, which has been an issue in the sale of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in methamphetamine labs.
The program calls for development of Oklahoma as a testing ground for unmanned aerial systems and expansion of the state sales tax holiday to include school supplies, computers, accessories and energy star appliances.
Other chamber-backed initiatives include:
To see the chamber's complete legislative program, go online to tulsaworld.com/chamber 2013agenda
- Opposing any effort to dilute the Oklahoma Water Resources Board's responsibility for water planning.
- Expanding charter school funding and sponsorship opportunities.
- Supporting school district performance pay for teacher and professional staff which is tied to outcomes and standards.
- Working to preserve state highway funding and protect the eight-year construction work plan.
Original Print Headline: Chamber touts legislative agenda
Wayne Greene 918-581-8308