CIEDA celebrates start of 2023 legislative session
February 25, 2023
Claremore Economic Development
Spring is in the air! Like many of you, our team feels rejuvenated and excited as we welcome warmer weather and sunshine. Likewise, we also enjoy the sense of energy and anticipation that follows the start of a new Oklahoma State Legislative Session.
The impact of local and state governments was evident during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. It highlighted that citizen engagement and involvement are crucial during the legislative process. In addition to flowers and rain showers, this spring season will bring two important local votes on March 7 and April 4. In addition to ensuring time on election day to make it to the polls, individuals must take time for legislative connection, awareness and advocacy.
More than 3,000 bills are launched during the start of the Legislative Session. However, to be heard on the House or Senate floor, a bill must first be passed through its designated committee. These hearings are currently taking place, and our team is watching over 100 pieces of legislation that could significantly impact Claremore and Rogers County. The topics of these bills vary but include education, workforce, tourism and economic development recruitment mechanisms, such as tax increment financing (TIF) districts.
Across the United States, you will find businesses with “Now Hiring” signs in the windows. Within Claremore’s industrial and healthcare sectors, more than 150 current job openings are actively being promoted. As a result, CIEDA is closely watching Governor Stitt’s recently announced Workforce Transition Taskforce and proposed legislation that may impact how employers, education institutions and individual job seekers interact with state offerings such as Oklahoma Works. We know that to retain businesses in Rogers County; organizations must have access to a robust pool of quality, skilled talent. To achieve this, CIEDA has strategic workforce development programming, scholarship and training offerings.
In addition to ample workforce and quality infrastructure, being able to provide competitive offerings for new businesses interested in expanding to Oklahoma is crucial. Claremore has a strong and reputable history of utilizing tax increment financing (TIF) districts as an incentive mechanism to support private sector investment. Examples include the expansion of AXH air-coolers, the Baker Hughes research and development center, NXTNano, Holiday Inn Express and the Claremore Conference Center. If not for this valuable economic development tool, made possible by the Oklahoma Local Development Act, Claremore would not have these investments, the benefit of increased ad valorem revenue and more than 1,200 new job opportunities. We are closely monitoring House Bills 1378 and 1379, which would alter how these measures can be implemented, potentially to the detriment of smaller industrial parks and communities like Claremore.
You don’t have to follow the hundreds of bills being filed and their current status to be involved. In a time when voter apathy is at a record high, I urge you to participate in your civic duty and cast your ballot in the upcoming elections. There are ample opportunities through absentee and early voting to ensure your voice is represented. On March 7, Oklahoma residents will vote on State Question 820 surrounding the legalization of recreational marijuana. This will be followed by an important local election on April 4, in which City of Claremore voters will select its new Mayor, City Council and consider adding a new one-penny sales tax to support public safety through police and fire.
You can review a sample ballot and determine your polling location by visiting the Rogers County Election Board website.
Stay informed, stay engaged and do not forget to vote!
All my best,
CIEDA Executive Director