Rep. Jones announces for Labor job, Reese calls for tax repeal

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

State Rep. Tad Jones of Claremore announced last week he will seek the Republican nomination for Labor Commissioner.
Jones has served in the Legislature for six years, and is “termed out” to leave the Legislature this year. Explaining his announcement, Jones said, “When I ran for the state House 11 years ago, making Oklahoma more business-friendly was one of my top priorities. We have made great strides by lowering taxes and reducing regulation, but much remains to be done. I am going to continue moving our state forward from the Labor Commissioner post.”
Jones was critical of the Obama administration shift away from the U.S. Labor Department policies of the Bush era. Pointing to news reports about the differences between the two administrations, Jones said, “The department can partner with businesses and workers, or it can act as a cold enforcer, just waiting for an opportunity to exact a fine, write a new regulation or unearth an infraction. In this economic environment, we must unleash the potential of our people to innovate, create and develop.”
At the state level, Jones said, “The Labor Department can be a great tool for cities looking to recruit manufacturing firms, and I want companies to look at Oklahoma before they consider taking jobs offshore.”
Meanwhile, candidate Jason Reese, an Oklahoma City lawyer whose campaign for the Labor Commissioner’s job began last year, last week called on the Legislature to repeal a new tax on workers’ comp premiums. Noting a recent spotlight from several legislators, Reese pointed to a small tax provision late in last year’s session that he argues has resulted in a burden on small business interests.  

“In this time of great stress for Oklahoma’s small businesses, the last thing we should do is increase their costs through higher taxes.” Reese cited the need for open government in the process that introduced the tax
The new 2.25% tax affects premiums of workers’ compensation policies written through CompSource, which has been under consideration for sale or mutualization, effectively turning ownership over to the policyholders. 
Reese concluded, “If we are serious about lower premiums and economic recovery, let’s repeal this tax and mutualize CompSource.”

Reese and Rep. Jones will contend in this summer’s Republican primary, seeking the right to challenge Lloyd Fields, the incumbent Democrat serving as Commissioner of Labor.