Meaningful Workers’ Comp Reform coming to state

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

The Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act has been the topic of much debate this session and has finally been approved by the Senate on a 35-12 vote and moves to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk to await her signature into law.

Senate Bill 1062 would replace Oklahoma’s judicial workers’ compensation system with an administrative system. Oklahoma is currently one of two states in the nation that still employ a judicial process for the resolution of workers’ compensation claims.

The new system would have three commissioners appointed by the governor that are subject to Senate approval, for six-year staggered terms. These commissioners then appoint Administrative Law Judges to hear any claims for workers’ compensation.

This reformation is a great accomplishment that will help both the state and the injured workers. The state could potentially see hundreds of millions of dollars saved each year as a result of the new administrative workers’ compensation system. Injured workers will also see that because of the Administrative Workers’ Compensation Act, they will be able to get quicker and more efficient health care instead of having to wait for a trial lawyer to grant approval.

This reformation could really help the state appeal to job creators and manufacturing jobs by sending them the message that we aim to get these costs under control by reforming our workers’ compensation system. The new system would allow for workers to get back to their job more quickly after being treated and would reduce the average weekly wage of the injured employee from 100 to 70 percent. These cuts in cost would allow for quality care for those injured employees while still effectively cutting costs for employers faced with workers’ compensation system fees. Giving adequate health care to those injured workers is a priority and it is important that they get the care they need quickly and efficiently so they can return back to work promptly.

I am incredibly proud at my fellow representatives for their hard work in passing this bill and I think that it is a historic day for Oklahomans. This incredible reformation will help generations of Oklahoman’s to come and will help cut costs on a system that has greatly needed reformation as well as a way to cut down on some out of control costs.

As we continue to cut costs at the Capitol, the representatives here have begun to focus on the very dire repairs that need to occur here at the state Capitol building, as well as cut backs on the state’s income tax. Gov. Fallin has proposed a drop in the top personal income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent, as well as setting aside $120 million for repairs to the Capitol. The Capitol is in dire need of repairs as many of the electric and plumbing is extremely out of date and ultimately has become a hazard for the hundreds of employees who work here during session. All of these reductions would save the average Oklahoma taxpayer nearly $100 each year. As the representatives here look to make cuts and reformations, we plan on keeping our constituents in mind, making sure we are making responsible and affordable cuts.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns at (405) 557-7407 or email me at mike.sanders@okhouse.gov.

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