OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - A bill to convert Oklahoma's Workers' Compensation Court into an administrative system cleared its first hurdle and is now headed to the full Senate for consideration.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 8-2 Tuesday for the 260-page Administrative Workers' Compensation Act by Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman. Both no votes came from Democrats, who have raised concerns the changes will result in reduced benefits for injured workers.
Bingman says high workers' compensation insurance premium costs for businesses in Oklahoma are proving to be a drag on the state's economy and "the biggest roadblock to a stronger economy.'' He cited a recent national study that shows Oklahoma has one of the highest premium rates in the country.
The bill is modeled on Arkansas' administrative system.
Brian Bush, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), says, "Moving to an administrative system for workers' compensation claims and gradually phasing down Oklahoma's income tax are the two most important steps our state can take toward being able to boast the best environment in America for growth and opportunity. That state policymakers are working to achieve each should be of great interest to Oklahoma employers and families."