Governor Signs Job Creation Bills Into Law

By Rep. Mike Sanders

Gov. Mary Fallin signed three bills into law on Tuesday, May 24 that are intended to make Oklahoma more business-friendly. The governor’s role is vital in the legislative process. She represents the final person to scrutinize legislation and ensure it is right for the people of Oklahoma. I am proud to say that the legislation we sent her way met that standard and will take effect in late August.

The governor signed Senate Bill 878, workers’ compensation reform legislation that creates new guidelines to ensure injured workers receive proper care and can return to work in a timely manner. The new law also sets up protocols and guidelines to ensure fair costs are paid for treating on-the-job injuries. These reforms will reduce medical costs and save money for the businesses paying into the system.

The governor also signed House bills 1953 and 1601 into law. House Bill 1953 establishes a Quick Action Closing Fund administered by the governor for the purpose of attracting new jobs and investment to Oklahoma or retaining existing jobs. House Bill 1601 creates a “one-stop-shop” centralized licensing plan for businesses.

These bills follow on the heels of an important lawsuit reform bill the governor signed into law earlier this session. Beginning Nov. 1, 2011, non-economic damages in all civil actions will be capped at $350,000. Once House Bill 2128 takes effect, Oklahoma will join the numerous other states that have enacted hard caps on non-economic damages. A 2008 study by the Perryman Group reports that after implementing non-economic damage caps, the state of Texas created 223,700 new jobs, increased annual consumer and business spending by $55.3 billion, and grew state revenues by $1.4 billion. I expect to see Oklahoma’s cap benefit our state through a decrease in health care costs because of fewer medical lawsuits and cheaper medical liability insurance. I also expect that it will lower the cost of doing business in the state.

Oklahomans voted in favor of a governor whose emphasis was on job creation and I am proud to see these pro-business bills signed into law. I will update you in the future on what we are able to accomplish with these new laws in place.

Gov. Fallin also signed three bills to increase efficiency and reduce the cost of state government and reduce duplicative services. House Bill 1304 consolidates and restructures the state’s aging information technology infrastructure. House Bill 1086 establishes a financial shared services model for state agencies and requires payments from the state treasury be processed electronically. House Bill 2140 consolidates the Department of Central Services, Office of Personnel Management, Employees Benefits Council and the State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board into the Office of State Finance.

As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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