Oklahoma business leaders lobby Congress at Chamber D.C. Fly-In

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 13-Sep-2010

Fears of increased federal regulation and continued policy uncertainty brought more than 130 business leaders from all over Oklahoma together Monday (September 13) in Washington, D.C. in an effort to appeal to Oklahoma’s congressional leaders for continued support.

The group traveled to the nation’s Capitol as part of The State Chamber’s annual D.C. Fly-In. They lobbied Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to continue to be a strong check on the ever-expanding federal reach into issues directly affecting businesses across the country.

Of particular concern is the effect the recently-passed health care bill will have on businesses in Oklahoma; how changing energy policy will affect one of the state’s top industries; and the tax structure for businesses and employees alike that could ultimately affect the bottom line.

“It is critical that our congressional leaders hear from us firsthand how important it is for them to push pro-business legislation in Washington, D.C. These business leaders represent industries that drive the economy of our state and give Oklahomans good-paying jobs,” said Fred Morgan, President and CEO of The State Chamber.

“We cannot forget that our economy is not going to recover fully until businesses across our country and in Oklahoma are allowed to flourish. Luckily, Oklahoma’s congressional delegation has been and will continue to be supportive of pro-growth policies, and it is important that we remind them that their hard work on behalf of the business community is appreciated,” Morgan said.

The business leaders in attendance came from a diverse group companies in Oklahoma, including those in the energy, technology, agriculture and aerospace industries, among others.

The business leaders heard from a panel discussing energy and economic policy and how the elections this November may impact those issues, along with a host of others.

Martin Regalia, senior vice president and chief economist for the U.S. Chamber, said it is encouraging that the economy is growing again – but it is not fast enough.

One issue is that the current administration is trying to grow the economy in a piecemeal way, he said: “The bottom line is simply that we are not growing fast enough and when you don’t grow in a fast way, you don’t create enough jobs. That is the whole ballgame.”

Businesses are holding cash because of fear and uncertainty in the market, which is hampering growth. The economy is not going to grow as long as businesses and consumers are holding onto large amounts of cash. Faster rates of consumption are needed, which will only come with more disposable income, he said.

Though the financial market has improved, the housing market continues to be a drag on the economy. “We need policies that encourage growth. It will still take some time,” said Regalia.

Rayola Dougher, senior economic adviser for the American Petroleum Institute, emphasized the significance of oil and gas in Oklahoma and America to the group of business leaders. She also discussed the importance of growing renewable energy sources including wind generation.

She noted that 350,000 jobs in Oklahoma are connected the development of oil and gas and urged the business leaders in attendance today to pay attention to additional federal regulation that could hinder economic growth.