Reforms to state’s judicial, pension systems highlight goals for 2014 session
Oklahoma City (January 27, 2014) – The State Chamber of Oklahoma seeks to build on its past legislative successes with an aggressive agenda for the 2014 legislative session set to start next week. After helping achieve a major change in Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system and a successful special session to deal with lawsuit reform in 2013, the State Chamber is setting its sights on issues such as reforming the state’s judicial system, moving forward with rigorous education standards and improving the state’s pension system.
“We are very proud to work with this pro-business legislature to advance an agenda that will help Oklahoma’s economy,” said Gwendolyn Caldwell, senior vice-president of Government Affairs for the State Chamber. “We look forward to working with lawmakers as they continue to improve the climate for job creators in our state.”Because of a need to restore common sense to our courts, the State Chamber supports the legislature examining ideas for judicial reform. As part of the third branch of government, state appeals court justices need to be accountable to the people. There are many ways to achieve this reform and the time is right to have the conversation about how best to go about it.
The State Chamber supports Governor Fallin’s Executive Order calling for rigorous education standards that will keep in place the standards passed by lawmakers in 2010. Business leaders continually say they have good-paying jobs with benefits available, but not enough qualified applicants. Oklahoma’s students need to graduate from high school prepared to start their career or be ready for college, and rigorous standards are the key.The state’s unfunded liability in its pension system has been reduced by previous legislation from $16-billion to its current $11-billion, but more reforms are needed. The State Chamber supports efforts to reduce this liability and ensure a stable retirement system for current and future state employees that won’t unnecessarily burden taxpayers.
Other items on the legislative agenda include:
- Work to ensure clear, simple language in all laws and regulations dealing with employment issues
- Support a stable oil and gas tax structure that promotes the investment of drilling capital in Oklahoma
- Maintain Oklahoma aerospace engineering tax credits that create high-paying, high-skilled jobs in Oklahoma
- Expand the InsureOklahoma! premium assistance program designed to make health insurance more affordable for small businesses while assuring the program’s funding source remains dedicated toward the delivery of health care
- Amend “single-subject” and “special law” constitutional provisions to provide clearer direction to the legislature
- Support job creating measures such as reducing the corporate income tax and protecting valuable economic development incentives
- Push for passage of the “Rational Use of Product Act” returning common sense to Oklahoma’s product liability laws