OKLAHOMA CITY -- Businesses could soon start receiving tax credits if they host blood drives and can convince employees to donate.

A proposed law, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, would give Oklahoma employers a $20 tax credit for each verified blood donation made during a business-hosted blood drive. Donors would not receive a tax credit.

Proponents say the proposed law would help ensure a strong and continuous blood supply for community hospitals while rewarding businesses that support employees who give blood.

State Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, said the aim of Senate Bill 1113 is to incentivize businesses to host more drives. Businesses are often hesitant to hold them because employee production goes down during the hour it takes to donate, he said.

He said the Oklahoma Blood Institute, the sixth largest nonprofit blood collector in the country, reached out to him because donations were down.

Bullard said he wasn't yet sure about the fiscal impact the bill could have on state coffers, but said it wouldn't be a massive amount of money.

Still, he said he wants to ensure companies can't take advantage of it. The program would start Jan. 1, 2021, and end by Jan. 1, 2026.

"We for sure don't want to make sure this becomes wide open," Bullard said. "We don't want companies to abuse this just to get the tax credit."

Heather Browne, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Blood Institute, said the nonprofit hosts about 5,000 blood drives a year. Of those, about 30-40 percent are hosted by businesses. The nonprofit serves more than 160 medical facilities across the state.

The bill would affect about 30,000 to 40,000 blood donations a year, she said.

Businesses already receive tax write-offs for donating to other nonprofits, so this is just another way to reward them, supporters said.

"I just think it would be more of a reason for businesses to get behind the mission," Browne said. "It would be an incentive to host more drives."

Emily Crouch, senior vice president of government affairs for the State Chamber of Oklahoma, said her organization generally supports the concept and will monitor the measure during the upcoming session.

The group represents more than 4,300 members with 275,000 employees.

"Any endeavor that allows businesses the option to encourage positive health habits in Oklahoma will be important to our members," she said in an email.

Stecklein covers the Oklahoma Statehouse for CNHI's newspapers and websites. Reach her at jstecklein@cnhi.com.

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