2023 Legislative Preview

March 16, 2023

By Blaine M. Peterson, CPA, JD

The first session of the 59th Oklahoma Legislature formally began on Monday, February 6, 2023, as Governor Stitt delivered his 2023 State of the State Address. The Oklahoma legislature immediately began to sort through more than 3,000 filed bills and joint resolutions. However, only around 400 bills make it to the Governor’s desk for signature prior to the end of the legislative session on May 26, being the last Friday in May.

The CPA profession is well represented in this year’s legislature with three OSCPA members serving the people of Oklahoma. Sen. Tom Dugger, CPA, and Rep. Gerrid Kendrix, CPA, will continue their service in the Senate and House, respectively, while Rep. Cody Maynard, CPA, enters his first session having won the election last year for House District 21. As Oklahoma looks to expand our economy and revisit our tax system, we are fortunate to have great CPA leadership at the Capitol helping guide those discussions.

2023 Legislative Priorities 

Our goal for the 2023 session is to continue our success from the previous sessions in protecting and modernizing the CPA credential and profession. In 2022, we modernized both the definition of the CPA examination and the Oklahoma Accountancy Board. We are continuing this process in the 2023 session with legislation necessary for the immediate and long-term success of the CPA profession.

  • We are updating the definition of attest to accommodate changes in audit and attest engagements. This is key to maintaining the CPA standards for these engagements as well as accommodating growing engagements such as ESG engagements. Extending mobility to firms is also important in reducing administrative barriers to our profession and ensuring our licensing structure is properly aligned with the needs of those we serve.
  • Ensuring Oklahoma has a full pipeline of CPAs is critical to the future of our profession and the success of our members. However, Oklahoma requires the completion of all 150 academic hours before a candidate can begin sitting for the CPA Exam. As one of only a handful of states with this higher threshold, our pipeline is at risk as our students are forced to start their journey later than other states.

SB171 seeks to reduce this barrier by allowing candidates to start the CPA Exam process after achieving a 120-hour bachelor’s degree. It is important to note, however, that this has no impact on CPA licensure or mobility, both of which still require the completion of 150 academic hours to become a licensed CPA.

In addition to the issues above, our advocacy team continues to monitor other important issues impacting the CPA profession, including tax reform and licensing regulations. Our advocacy team is closely tracking these bills as they progress through the legislature and will ensure our members stay informed throughout the process.

Turning Challenges into Opportunities 

Since the 12-year term limits began in 1992, the Oklahoma legislature has experienced increased turnover each election cycle, none more so than in the most recent elections. The last five elections have yielded an average of 37% turnover in the 101-member Oklahoma legislature, including 57% in 2018.

While this turnover results in many experienced legislators leaving the Capitol every two years, it also provides the opportunity to establish relationships and lend our professional expertise to an abundance of new legislators. With only 12 years to serve, freshman legislators are thrust into leadership positions early on and look to professionals to help educate them on important issues.

This need and opportunity highlight the important work of the CPA-PAC as they are charged with building relationships with new legislators and maintaining that communication throughout their time of service. Your financial support and engagement represent the foundation of the CPA-PAC and are essential to maintaining the heightened role of the CPA profession in the legislative process. You can learn more about the CPA-PAC by visiting www.oscpa.com/advocacy/cpa-pac.

Blaine Peterson, CPA, J.D., is the president and CEO of the Oklahoma Society of CPAs. He has been an OSCPA member for more than 20 years and previously served as a director at large for the OSCPA Board of Directors and board liaison to the OSCPA’s Taxation, Personal Financial Planning and Business Valuation/Forensic & Litigation Support Committees. Peterson is also a member of the AICPA and Oklahoma Bar Association.