Tulsa, OK – The Tulsa Metro Chamber and 38 regional partners announced today the top OneVoice state and federal legislative agenda items to advocate in 2011.
At a news conference, Chamber leaders Chair Dr. Gerry Clancy, president of the University of Oklahoma - Tulsa; Jeff Dunn, president of Mill Creek Lumber and Supply Company and vice chairman of the Board for the Chamber's Government Affairs program; and Mike Neal, Tulsa Metro Chamber president and CEO, announced the following state priorities:
1. Support a Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program Acts (SHOPP) or other options to maximize federal opportunities for Medicaid, to achieve the Upper Payment Limit (UPL) for hospitals and to provide durable, consistent and predictable funding for Medicaid and indigent care providers.
2. Support legislation allowing municipalities to diversify their sources of revenues to fund essential local government operations.
3. Oppose cuts to education funding and oppose further reductions in the cap on annual property tax valuations.
4. Support currently unavailable specialty care services to the uninsured through new funding of $7 million annually to OU'S Tisdale Specialty Health Center and $2 million annually to the OSU Center for Health Sciences.
5. Support investment in a project or "deal closing" fund to attract, grow and retain businesses in Oklahoma.
6. Defend all existing road funding; prevent any diversion of monies; and support increased funding for transportation by developing an adequate, comprehensive funding strategy.
7. Support the building of the Gilcrease Expressway and Bridge through any funding mechanism available.
8. Maximize private donations by supporting a state bond issue for capital investment in cultural, historical and entertainment venues in the Tulsa region.
9. Reinstate the aerospace and other effective tax incentives. Protect effective tax credits and eliminate ineffective tax credits through a process of annual review.
Update: Senate Bill 3 passed unanimously out of the Senate Finance Committee and is now headed to the Senate floor.
10. Support policies that encourage energy development in a regulatory environment that creates more business certainty, promotes job creation and encourages economic growth for all domestic energy sources.
"Adequate hospital funding has been on our agenda for years and this year it's the top priority because of the critical need and impact on the entire state, not just the Tulsa region," said Neal. "We are partnering with several organizations including the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber to support measures that will ensure our hospitals remain open and able to provide the best medical care for our state's population."
Leading the Chamber's federal priorities is to support U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe's request for funding for implementation of the Arkansas River corridor master plan.
"We, along with our partners, have and will continue to advocate for river funding at every opportunity until we see this natural asset developed and utilized to its full potential," said Neal. "The Arkansas River is a tremendous, untapped resource that could be used to greatly impact the value of our community and surrounding communities, and we are determined to see that happen."
Other top federal priorities announced at the press conference include:
Attain approval of SHOPP, which provides new state funds to be matched with federal funds to stabilize Medicaid enrollment, benefit and reimbursement efforts.
Support timely reauthorization of the federal surface transportation programs.
Support and fully fund the medical home model for primary healthcare as provided by the Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (like Morton and Community Health Connection); support residency training at the FQHCs (Teaching Health Centers Program) and National Health Service Corps Expansion to cover medical school loan payback through FQHC service.
Ensure that graduate medical education continues to receive federal funding.
Oppose cap and trade legislation.
Support comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.
Support the adoption of a more reasonable time frame for the implementation of the new, more stringent ozone emission standard.
Support development of an intermodal transportation system.
Support the right of workers to voluntarily join unions under fair and democratic rules.
The Chamber began the process of identifying Legislative agenda items during the Regional Legislative Summit on August 12, 2010, where more than 260 community leaders and representatives helped select their top issues for consideration.
"Last year's diligent lobbying efforts paid off through the passage of critical legislation in transportation, education reform, workers' comp, health care and incentives to make Oklahoma and the Tulsa region more competitive when working to attract business and events to our state," said Clancy. "We saw unprecedented success, but more importantly overwhelming support throughout the region. As we move into the 2011 session, there are several key items that will have a major impact on Tulsa's future, but without their support, passing critical legislation is not possible."
That support extended to Washington when the Chamber led 65 regional partners and community leaders on an advocacy trip to the nation's capitol where three days of meetings with the congressional delegation, U.S. Chamber leaders and other influential policymakers were held.
"The delegation was very pleased to learn about Oklahoma's proactive move to develop the Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program Acts (SHOPP) in order to gain additional funds from Medicaid to support healthcare in Oklahoma," said Clancy.
"In addition to the support of our requests, we feel very confident that we can count on victories in 2011 in the areas of opposition to cap and trade legislation and a carbon tax; opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act; and efforts to control the Environmental Protection Agency's implementation of its Ozone Emission Standard."
In addition to staff advocacy efforts, the Chamber contracts with two full-time lobbyists, Margaret Erling and Jami Longacre, as well as enlisting private sector lobbyists to include the Chamber's legislative agenda in its efforts at the state Capitol.