Legislative Reforms to Bring Business to Oklahoma

Legislative Reforms to Bring Business to Oklahoma

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

This year, members of the House Republican caucus will be introducing major reform legislation to fix the state workers’ compensation system, correct inefficiencies in the state’s financial processing system, and attract the relocation of alternative energy companies to Oklahoma.

Workers’ compensation reform will, like last year’s historic lawsuit reform legislation, lower business expenses, and make Oklahoma more attractive to new industry. At the same time, the reform will continue to protect workers injured on the job and improve employee benefits. There is a deep dissatisfaction with the workers’ comp system, which is plagued by fraud and high costs and rarely produces consistently fair and equitable results.

Currently, attorney involvement in Oklahoma’s workers’ comp system is 50 percent higher than the national average. Even though the benefits specified in state law are comparable to workers’ comp benefits in other states, the actual cost of those benefits in Oklahoma is among the most expensive in the nation.

Government modernization legislation will include an aggressive effort to target waste in the state’s financial processing systems. Based on a study commissioned by the Office of State Finance, House Bill 2310 will set a timetable by which state officials must use technology to remedy inefficiencies in the system including the number of invoices each accounts payable full-time employee handles.

The study, conducted by the globally-recognized Hackett Corporation, found that up to $65 million could be saved each year through the implementation of a more efficient state government financials system. The Hackett study documents that Oklahoma’s accounts payable system is incurring high transaction costs and experiencing low productivity because of the under-utilization of technology. Oklahoma spends $20.05 for each invoice in the state’s accounts payable system compared to peer groups that spend $3.58 per account payable. In other words, it takes Oklahoma six times more resources for each process than similarly sized organizations.

Our state is situated to be a leader in the use of wind and natural gas, two resources that abound in Oklahoma. I recently met with representatives from OG&E, the Corporation Commission, the Farm Bureau and several wind energy companies. The subject of our meeting was HB 2973, my proposed wind energy legislation. This group came together to ensure that HB 2973 would be fair and beneficial to all parties involved. My number one priority with this legislation is to protect Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers. Our land is a valuable commodity and we must ensure that proper measures are taken when contracting with wind energy companies to protect our land and the rights of landowners.

I would like to thank you all for the overwhelming support I have received for my legislation to increase the prison time for convicted sex offenders and require a map-able address and zip code when they register.

I will keep you regularly updated on the activities of the Legislature through this column. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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