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February 20, 2013

Workers comp rehaul

NORMAN — Senate Bill 1062, the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act, passed with an 8-2 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee and now heads to a floor vote before the full Senate.

“Today’s vote is an undeniably strong signal of support for replacing Oklahoma’s broken workers’ compensation system,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.  “We have to put the brakes on our runaway workers’ compensation system if we are serious about growing our state’s economy. I applaud my colleagues in the Senate Judiciary Committee for their dedication to making Oklahoma a more prosperous place to live, work, and raise a family.”

The bill would replace Oklahoma’s adversarial workers’ compensation system d with an administrative system.

The Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act seeks to reduce the cost of workers’ compensation premiums and ensure injured workers receive quality care in a timely manner. 

Bingman described Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation costs as a drag on Oklahoma’s economy and urged the passage of SB 1062.

Modeled after a similar bill in Arkansas that has had success in reducing premiums, the bill was co-authored by Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, chair of the Judiciary Committee. Sykes said learned first-hand about the benefits of an administrative system on a fact-finding trip to Arkansas.

Oklahoma’s current judicial workers’ compensation system has been identified as one of the most expensive in the nation. Recent national studies, like the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services survey, cite Oklahoma as having one of the highest premiums in the country at $2.77 for every $100 of payroll — equating to 147 percent of the national median. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s regional neighbors boast far lower costs.

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