Legislature Needs More Business Input / Says Rush

Article excerpt

A greater amount of significant legislation promoting economic development could have been passed by the 41st session of the Oklahoma Legislature if business groups had been more organized in lobbying efforts and if private citizens had shown more concern, the president of the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

"We have passed some significant legislation in this session, but we should have done more," said Richard P. Rush in speaking to the Oklahoma City Economic Roundtable.

In particular, Rush said Oklahoma currently cannot compete with some other states in the areas of tort reform and workers' compensation.

On the positive side, Rush said passage of House Bill 1444 - known as the Economic Recovery Act of 1987 - by the legislature and the prospect of it being signed by Gov. Henry Bellmon should send a strong message to industry looking at Oklahoma.

"We have every indication the governor will sign (House Bill) 1444," he said. "The worst message that we could project would be the governor vetoing 1444."

The sending of "messages" to business outside Oklahoma is important, Rush said, because of the perception many people have of Oklahoma, both in state and out.

"A great deal is affected by perception. That's what runs the stock market," Rush said. "Much of Oklahoma is misperceived, both inside the state and out.

"The number one problem of Oklahomans is their self-image," he said. "Oklahoma probably has the lowest self-image of any state I've worked in, and that's due to misperception."

He said the state chamber is committed to correcting how people perceive Oklahoma and is "in the best position ever" to project the state because of the unprecedented commitment from both the private and public sector to do something about Oklahoma's economic situation.

The verbal commitment to change things has evolved into a financial commitment, Rush said.

He said the state chamber is attempting to organize the 208 local chambers in the state and the 60,000 to 70,000 businesses to work together politically for a favorable business climate. …