President Pro Tempore
Senate District 21
Lincoln, Logan & Payne Counties
Laster Judicial Survey
For Immediate Release: January
Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan, Sen. Charles Laster, Sen.
Debbe Leftwich and
Sen. Jay Paul Gumm discuss Senate Democrat proposals at a State
Capitol press conference on Tuesday.
Morgan, Senate Democrats Unveil Agenda to Strengthen Small Business
Building on past successes and providing innovative
solutions for the future, Senate Democrats unveiled their legislative
agenda to “Strengthen Small Business” Tuesday afternoon
at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
Senate President Pro Tempore Mike
Morgan and Shawnee Senator Charlie
Laster teamed up to make the announcement.
“The proposals we announced today, like all the plans we will
propose in the coming days and weeks, put a premium on personal
responsibility and accountability. They will develop a healthier
and better trained workforce for small business in our state and
will lower the costs for small business with common sense reforms
of the state’s civil justice system,” Morgan said.
Pointing to the annual Pollina report and Economy.com’s cost
of doing business survey, Morgan said Oklahoma is consistently ranked
among the most business friendly states in the nation. (The Pollina
Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2005 ranked Oklahoma with
the 10th most pro-business climate in the nation and Economy.com
reported that Oklahoma has the 4th lowest cost of doing business
in the country.)
“We should build on the successes of the past and provide
a blueprint for future growth of small businesses in our state,”
Senate Democrats propose expanding Oklahoma’s health insurance
premium assistance plan to make it available to all businesses with
50 or fewer employees. Currently, enrollment in the plan, which
was developed by the Legislature in 2004, is limited to businesses
with 25 or fewer employees.
Under the plan, the state pays 60 percent of the health insurance
premiums for employees of participating small businesses. The employee
pays 15 percent and the employer pays the final 25 percent.
“Employers and employees who are willing to take on the responsibility
of contributing to the cost of health insurance are rewarded because
the state contribution keeps down the cost of health insurance for
those individuals. Employees get health insurance they couldn’t
otherwise afford and small businesses get a healthier workforce,”
Saying the lawsuit reform measures passed in 2003 and 2004 have
reduced the number of lawsuits and slowed the skyrocketing cost
of malpractice insurance premiums for doctors, Laster introduced
a series of civil justice system reforms that will further reduce
frivolous lawsuits, eliminate nagging cases that drag on in the
courts for years, and regulate television advertising by attorneys.
“Frivolous lawsuits and those suits that take years to come
to trial add to the cost of doing business, especially for small
business owners. The Lawsuit Responsibility Act will lower those
costs without limiting access to the courts to just those big corporations
with an army of lawyers,” Laster said.
Morgan also proposed a pilot program to offer tax incentives to
small businesses which provide tuition assistance and pay for retraining
for their employees. Federal law allows for the creation of tax
free life-time learning accounts but currently they tend to benefit
wealthy Oklahomans who can afford to have an additional deduction
from their paycheck.
The plan will offer a tax credit to employers who contribute to
life-long learning accounts for their employees, making those accounts
possible for middle class Oklahomans, Morgan said.
“It offers an incentive to employers who will shoulder the
responsibility of helping their employees be better equipped to
do their jobs and provides an opportunity for working Oklahomans
who are willing to take on the responsibility of furthering their
education,” Morgan said.
The plan rewards both employers and employees by resulting in a
better educated, better trained small business workforce in Oklahoma,
The Senate Leader said each of the proposals in the Senate Democrats
legislative agenda to “Strengthen Small Business” will
contribute to developing a culture of greater personal and corporate
responsibility in Oklahoma
“Oklahoma should be a state where if you work hard and play
by the rules, you have the opportunity to succeed. We believe these
proposals can make a difference as we strive to make responsibility
and accountability core values that guide our community life,”
more information contact:
President Pro Tem's Office - (405) 521-5605