The Norman Transcript

Local news

February 5, 2013

Area legislators react to speech

NORMAN — Freshman state Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, said Gov. Mary Fallin’s State of the State Address is one he’ll never forget.

“It was very good,” Standridge said. “The number that is impressing to me is the unemployment rate.”

The governor reported that unemployment has been reduced 30 percent since 2010 and is currently “one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Our median household income rose in 2011 by $4,000 — placing Oklahoma at No. 1 in the country,” she said.

“Oklahoma is employed in small business, and small business tends to weather those storms better,” Standridge said.

Standridge, a small business owner himself, said small business is the lifeblood of community, and that is especially relevant in Norman, which has an even lower unemployment rate than the state average.

“I think we’re doing things right, and it’s creating jobs,” said freshman Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. “I enjoyed the governor’s speech. I thought she made sense.”

Standridge said the economy is bouncing back.

Workers’ compensation reform: Fallin cited workers’ compensation costs as a primary barrier to economic growth. Standridge agrees.

“I believe that is our No. 1 issue,” Standridge said. “We have a judicial-based workers’ comp system right now. A lot of the reforms we’ve implemented aren’t being utilized. We’re not going to see true reform until we move out of the judicial to an administrative system.”

Standridge believes the current system is not beneficial to either the employer or employees. He said getting workers’ comp out of the “adversarial process” is key to real reform.

“The point of workers’ comp should be to get them the treatment they need and to get them back to work as soon as possible,” he said. “It should be all about the workers.”

Economic incentives: The Quick Action Fund, which will be used to compete for employers through quick incentives, is a touchier subject for Standridge.

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