Governor Stitt signs massive economic incentive bill into law

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed into law a massive economic incentive and rebate bill in hopes of luring in what FOX23 has been told by multiple sources to be a Panasonic battery plant.

House Bill 4455, known as the Lead Act, provides for just under $700 Million in rebates for a company that reaches certain requirements when it sets up shop in Oklahoma. The bill didn’t exist until last week, and it will go down in state history as one of the fastest pieces of legislation to be passed through the State Capitol.

Though Stitt and others in his office could not say the company they were trying to lure in by name because they signed non-disclosure agreements, but they did mention it is a Fortune 500 company.

Currently, electronic company Panasonic is reportedly in consideration to build a large electric vehicle battery plant in either Oklahoma or Kansas. The building would be one of the largest manufacturing facilities in the U.S. once complete, and the batteries being developed would become the power source for Telsa and Canoo electric vehicles.

A spokesman for the governor said the bill would be signed quietly without fanfare or ceremony. The passage of HB 4455 does not mean the factory belongs to Oklahoma. There still has to be a tax increment finance district (TIF) approved in Mayes County at the Mid-America Industrial Park where Canoo is building a factory to produce vehicles.

While many lawmakers in both the State House and State Senate were concerned they were passing a bill to benefit a company they did not know the name of, many of them agreed to pass the bill because they believed this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Oklahoma, and they were concerned that Kansas lawmakers had already passed an incentive bill of $1.3 Billion earlier this year while Oklahoma did not have anything on the table outside the usual incentives, which were deemed to be too small for the operation being proposed.

Opponents of the bill called the legislation “corporate welfare” and others feared that the company would need to bring in hundreds if not thousands of people from outside Oklahoma to fill the positions needed to meet requirements for the rebate. Opponents felt the influx of so many outsiders seeking employment in Oklahoma would cause people with different values to move into Oklahoma and cause a political and cultural shift.