Oklahoma Legislative Session Ends With Small Business Successes
The Legislature adjourned the 2020 legislative session on May 29th, closing out the two-year 57th Oklahoma Legislature. The end of session closes one of the strangest legislative sessions in recent memory. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Capitol was closed for seven weeks during the middle of the session. The closure meant lawmakers considered far fewer measures than normal. This session, only 176 bills were passed out of both chambers and sent to the governor’s desk. Between carryover bills from last year and new bills filed this year, there were more than 4,500 bills and resolutions available to be considered this session.
Even with the unusual circumstances, there were some noteworthy bills that NFIB supported and opposed during the shortened session:
- SB 1946 provides civil liability protection for businesses safely reopening while acting in accordance with government guidance or those operating as a government-directed essential business during the state of emergency. NFIB supported this measure, and it passed the Senate 34-11, the House of Representatives 76-20, and was signed by the Governor.
- SB 1947 provides lawsuit protections to those who manufacture or donate materials needed in response to the virus. NFIB supported this measure, and it passed the Senate 33-11, the House of Representatives 82-15, and was signed by the Governor.
- HB 3619 ensures Oklahomans continue to have access to energy choices by keeping municipalities from passing bans on certain energy sources such as natural gas. NFIB supported this measure, and it passed the House of Representatives 77-16, the Senate 38-7, and was signed by the Governor. .
SB 1890 would have created a state-sponsored retirement account. Employers in business for 2 or more years with 10 or more employees that do not already offer retirement benefits would be mandated to offer the state retirement plan to employees 18 and older. Unless the employee opts out, employers would be required to enroll eligible employees and withhold contributions from their paycheck. NFIB opposed this measure and it was not heard by the House of Representatives after it was passed by the Senate.
Lawmakers in both chambers are now gearing up for their re-election campaigns. There will certainly be new faces in the Legislature next session, though how many is unknown. The turnover will not be as extensive as it has been in recent years, however. What type of economic environment those lawmakers will return to next January is uncertain as well, though most expect the economy to begin recovering in the second half of the year as the state reopens for business.
So as we shift from the legislative season to the election and political season, NFIB will continue to inform, engage, and be a resource for you during these atypical times.