Note: This article was first published in The Journal Record on Jan. 20, 2020.
It’s that time of year when all eyes in Oklahoma turn to the state Capitol. That’s right: The 2020 legislative session is just around the corner.
And soon, the State Chamber of Oklahoma will release our legislative agenda, spelling out the business community’s focus for the year and for the legislative session.
But before we look ahead, it’s important to remember where we’ve been. After years of conflict, our state’s political leadership brought stability, much-needed optimism, and a new era of reform to 23rd and Lincoln.
With that, we witnessed landmark reforms to state government, improvements to our judicial selection system, investment in infrastructure, and reforms to our criminal justice system. We also saw a renewed emphasis on smart economic development incentives to support our state’s growth, important safeguards to private property rights, and employer protections relating to Oklahoma’s medical marijuana law.
Although impressive, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels in 2020. While it’s safe to say that the last two years marked the beginning of Oklahoma’s turnaround, the new session will require focus, intensity, and tenacity to continue the momentum of change.
This session, Oklahoma’s business community will lead the charge to improve the prosperity of our state and tackle some of Oklahoma’s biggest challenges. This year, we must build upon the achievements of the last two years by enacting civil service reforms, measures to improve education outcomes, and meaningful changes to our much-maligned legal and judicial system.
In addition, we will pursue reforms to Oklahoma’s archaic unemployment compensation system. We also recognize the need for more transparency and accountability when private lawyers are hired to bring litigation on behalf of the state. And, perhaps most importantly, we will actively recruit and support the appointment of business-minded individuals to serve on state agencies, boards, and commissions.
Of course, change is hard. We will no doubt see opposition from the beneficiaries of the status quo, but the status quo is not the future. Make no mistake, we will likely have to defend the historic workers’ compensation reforms and prevent further attempts to overregulate and overtax those that are currently creating jobs and prosperity in our state.
This can be the year that we witness truly transformational change in Oklahoma. Rest assured, Oklahoma’s business community is ready to lead the charge to move Oklahoma forward.