11 New OK2030 Bills Signed Into Law
Growing our economy, increasing government accountability and improving Oklahoma’s health care, judicial and workforce systems are cornerstones of our OK2030 strategic vision plan . Many bills aligned with OK2030 reforms are still alive at the state Capitol this session. And we’re pleased to report that 11 OK2030-backed bills have already been signed into law by the governor this year:

  • HB 2479, HB 2480, HB 2483, SB 456 and SB 457 improve government accountability through direct appointments of the directors of Oklahoma’s largest agencies
  • SB 670 eases occupational licensing requirements and costs on military families
  • HB 2366 modernizes Oklahoma’s judicial districts to ensure the greatest talent pool of judicial candidates
  • HB 2351 expands patient access to care through improved medical license portability
  • HB 1094 reduces employment barriers for those trying to enter the automotive and manufactured homes sales industries
  • SB 234 reforms the state employee Merit Protection System to ensure Oklahoma recruits and promotes the best state workers
  • HB 1057 facilitates telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across jurisdictional boundaries

We appreciate the Legislature and Governor Stitt implementing these forward-thinking reforms to strengthen our state’s government, health care, workforce and judicial systems. To track the progress of other OK2030-related bills, follow the State Chamber Research Foundation on Facebook or Twitter .

Contact: Jennifer Lepard
MIKE JACKSON
Issue Areas: Economic Development, Taxation and Financial Services; Energy/Natural Resources

This week, the Legislature began the final phase of session: reconciliation and budget. Meanwhile, battles continue over veto requests as well as negotiations and votes on remaining bills. 

Two bills supported by the State Chamber were signed by the governor: HB 2665 and SB 18 . SB 18 extends a sales tax exemption created in 2008 for rolling stock (locomotives, autocars and railroad cars) sold or leased by the manufacturer. HB 2665 allows Oklahoma businesses to continue deducting state and local taxes (SALT) from federal taxes. The legislation, known as the SALT Parity Fix, protects nearly 135,000 Oklahoma businesses at risk of losing a SALT deduction next year.

SB 485 and HB 2095 are currently on the governor’s desk waiting for signature. SB 485 eliminates the tax credit for incubators and eliminates the Quality Jobs Investment Program. This bill follows the Incentive Evaluation Commission's recommendations to eliminate these programs, which are no longer being used. HB 2095 extends the sunset date for the compressed natural gas (CNG) and electric vehicle (EV) tax credits to 2028. The legislation incentivizes investment and purchase of natural gas vehicles, CNG infrastructure and electric vehicle infrastructure. This bill follows the Incentive Evaluation Commission’s recommendation to extend the credit.

One bill that is harmful to business and imposes contract mandates on the top 25 liquor brands is SB 608 . The bill requires the top 25 spirit and liquor brand manufacturers to offer to contract with all licensed wholesalers in the state. This is against the will of the people who overwhelmingly approved alcohol modernization in 2016 (SQ 792.) SQ 792 amended the Oklahoma Constitution to allow a winery or distiller to choose which wholesalers will distribute its products. 

EMILY CROUCH
Issue Areas: Health Care; Workforce Development

At the beginning of the week, Governor Stitt signed HB 1057, which opts Oklahoma into the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT). PSYPACT was created in 2015 to facilitate telehealth and temporary in-person, face-to-face practice of psychology across jurisdictional boundaries and has been adopted by seven states.

On Wednesday evening, the governor vetoed SB 841, which requires all pharmacy benefit plans to comply with an “any willing provider” mandate and interjects the state government into private businesses’ ability to contract with vendors of their choice. This bill could have had a significant fiscal impact on your company’s pharmacy benefit offerings. By vetoing SB 841, the business community remains hopeful that future discussions on this topic will yield compromise that all parties can agree to.

Governor Stitt and leadership from the House and Senate announced their support for criminal justice reforms for the 2019 legislative session. Following that announcement, Governor Stitt released additional details on the proposals. These reforms will be instrumental in modernizing Oklahoma’s criminal justice system.

A bill awaiting Governor Stitt’s approval could drive more students into computer coding-related careers. SB 593 requires all public high schools to offer at least one computer science course beginning with the 2022–2023 school year. Oklahoma has more than 2,000 coding/computing jobs available today, yet only 25% of Oklahoma high schools currently offer a computer-related course.

CORDON DEKOCK
Aerospace, Defense, Technology and Telecommunications; Transportation & Infrastructure

This week, the Senate adopted amendments made by the House to SB 365, sending the legislation to the Governor for consideration. This bill creates the Oklahoma Driving Automation Systems Uniformity Act and would standardize regulations for driverless vehicles in the state. While this would disallow counties and municipalities from banning driverless vehicles or regulating them based on underlying technologies, it will ensure they operate safely and within local traffic laws and ordinances.

SB 378, which would restructure commercial driver’s license (CDL) testing, is still awaiting a hearing in the Senate. This legislation would permit CDL training schools to also provide CDL driving tests in accordance with federal safety regulations and rules. Currently, a majority of states have a system for CDL testing that involves both public and private options for CDL testing to address long wait times for drivers. Delays for CDL tests costs Oklahomans more than $5 million in lost wages per year, according to the State Chamber Research Foundation. 

Two other priority bills, HB 2142 and HB 2143, are awaiting hearing in the House. These bills will help address the $235 million backlog of critical needs maintenance along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigational System (MKARNS) by creating the Tri-State Commission on the MKARNS and the MKARNS Revolving Fund. These bills were amended in the Senate to engage a broader set of stakeholders including business, agricultural and tribal partners.  

ADRIA BERRY
Human Resources & Labor Law; Legal Reform; Workers' Compensation

Nearly 100 harmful HR bills that would place mandates on businesses related to increased benefits and pay were not heard before their deadlines this session. We are happy to see bad legislation die for the session, and we are also pleased to report some positive developments:  

The newly created Occupational Licensing Advisory Commission recommended a few bills for this session. One of those, SB 670 —a bill that would ease occupational licensing requirements and costs on military families—was passed by the House and Senate and signed by the Governor last week.  

HB 2597 , a bill that allows for constitutional carry in Oklahoma, was signed early in session. We were able to work with the Legislature to add in protections for business and property owners. Last week, HB 2010 —a bill that clarifies that only concealed carry (not permitless carry) is allowed at municipal zoos or parks run by non-profits—was passed and signed by the governor.

In addition, several of our Legal Reform priorities have already been achieved this session, including:

  • Judicial redistricting. HB 2366 was signed by the governor last week updating Supreme Court districts to match our five current congressional districts and providing for four at-large districts.
  • Protection from employment discrimination lawsuits with uncapped damages. State Question 788 left a gap in the law regarding a legal remedy for employees who believe they were discriminated against by an employer for being a medical marijuana patient. We worked with the Legislature to make sure a legal remedy was written into the Unity Bill, HB 2612. Now, employees have a remedy within the existing standards in the Title 40 Standards for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Act.
  • Protecting the tort reforms of the last decade. A couple of bills filed this year would have rolled back some hard-fought tort reforms, including HB 2409. We worked with the bill authors, and the bills were not heard in committee. The Supreme Court of Oklahoma did, however, roll back a very important tort reform recently. In the Beason case, the Court overturned the cap on non-economic damages that was part of the 2009 tort reform package supported by the State Chamber. This is a blow to the legal environment in Oklahoma, and we are discussing next steps. 

Last week, HB 2367 moved through the Senate with a floor substitute; Chairman Daniels changed language in the bill regarding the medical fee schedule and the transition plan for the Court. Title is still off this bill, and Representative Kannady rejected amendments this week and sent the bill to conference committee. Hopefully, we can reach an agreement this year that protects the reforms but addresses the three main pressing items: funding for the Multiple Injury Trust Fund (MITF), a transition plan for the Court of Existing Claims and benefits for injured workers. If we don’t address these items this year, it will likely create more pressing problems next year. 

Showcase Your Company in Our Member Video
Calling all members! We want you to be part of our 2019 Annual Meeting Member Video. Show off your company by submitting photos, short video clips or newspaper articles highlighting something special your company did this year. Space is limited, and submissions will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. This year’s member video will be unveiled at Annual Meeting on June 18 and will be added to our website and YouTube channels following the event. All we need is a completed video submission form and your choice of media no later than May 24. To view last year’s member video, click here .

Contact: Lindsey Sparks
Stitt's Final Appointments to Board of Education
Governor Stitt made his final appointments to the State Board of Education recently. Jennifer Monies, Brian Bobek, Estela Hernandez and Kurt Bollenbach are all new appointments to the board. Jennifer Monies is the former Executive Director of Oklahoma Achieves—the education initiative of the State Chamber and the State Chamber Research Foundation. For four years, Monies championed research, policies and community engagement in support of Oklahoma students and educational excellence. 

These appointees must be approved by the Senate Education Committee and then considered by the entire Senate before the end of session. In addition to these new appointees, Governor Stitt reappointed current board member, William Flanagan. Governor Stitt also appointed Carlisha Williams Bradley last fall. Upon the confirmation of these appointments, the State Board of Education will be fully slated with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Joy Hofmeister, as the seventh member and chair of the board.

“…I am excited by the appointments announced today by Governor Stitt,” Hofmeister said. “I already have had the honor of working with Estela Hernandez and Jennifer Monies; I know both to be tireless and exceptional advocates for strong public education. I look forward to getting to know Brian Bobek and Kurt Bollenbach. We all have hard work ahead of us, but there is reason for great optimism.”

To read more about the State Board of Education appointments, click here.
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