Thursday, June 13, 2024

State legislature set to begin in early February

The Oklahoma 56th Legislature will open for business on Monday, Feb. 4.

It should be interesting, considering 46 members of the House (46 percent) are brand new. In addition, there are 11 new senators (out of 48, or 23 percent).

According to our friends at the State Chamber of Oklahoma, 54 percent of the Senate is either new, elected in a special election or has only two years of experience. In the House, that number jumps to 75 percent of state representatives who have two years or less experience.

Adding the fact our new governor also comes into office from the private sector, with no prior “political” experience, and it tends to cause some of the “old hands” at the Capitol to be a bit nervous as to how that’s going to work out.

“Frankly, I’m more than intrigued and excited about how these numbers will impact the process and improve how things work out,” OBA’s chief state lobbyist Adrian Beverage said. “I’ve always favored the founders’ idea of ‘citizen legislators’ and public servants, not career political figures who bring very little real-life or business experience.

“The good news is we still have solid leadership, with (banker!) Charles McCall (R-Atoka) remaining as speaker of the House, and Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) as the new president pro temp of the Senate. We’ve known both of these fine men for some time and are convinced these leaders know the way to creating a better state, together.”

The OBA’s Government Relations Council meets on Tuesday Jan. 22, to consider some issues that have come to our attention. One of those issues involves Property Assessed Clean Energy lending.
PACE loans are loans used to finance energy efficiency upgrades or renewable energy installations of residential, commercial and industrial property owners. Such financing can involve several methods of making more energy-efficient improvements that includes things like seismic retrofitting for both individual homes and commercial buildings located in areas more prone to earthquakes (like Oklahoma).

These loans can be utilized for hurricane preparedness measures, solar panels energy-efficient roofing and some lighting upgrades. The difference here is the property is the collateral used to secure the loan, and the debt relates to the property, not to its owner or borrower. What makes these loans a bit unusual is should there be a remaining balance on a PACE loan, it becomes a debt that remains with the property if and when the property is sold or otherwise changes hands.

“We’ll have a lot on our collective plate to say grace over,” Beverage said. “I hope a record number of bankers sign up for our ‘Contact Banker’ program so they can establish a good working relationship with their senator and representative. It’s participation by the local banker that enables us to successfully do our work on behalf the industry.

“It’s really pretty simple: Together we are stronger! The more we recognize the truth of that basic premise, the better our results will be going forward.”