Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation system was for the longest time one of the primary complaints I received when I talked to business owners in Northwest Oklahoma. As I am preparing for this year’s tour of businesses, I have some good news to share with you.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance has announced a projected 7.8 percent decrease in workers’ compensation costs for next year. Last year, the NCCI reported business owners would see a projected average of 14.6 percent decrease for 2014. The organization credited the decrease to workers’ compensation reform passed by the Oklahoma Legislature.
Furthermore, the State Chamber of Oklahoma estimates that since workers’ comp reform was passed in the state, Oklahoma businesses have saved more than $220 million. The implementation of our reform continues, but we are already seeing great results.
This year’s tour of businesses and major employers of the district includes Canton Lake, Northwestern Electric Cooperative in Woodward, the Woodward Conference Center, Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s Woodward campus, Watonga Mercy Hospital and Roman Nose State Park in Watonga.
During last year’s tour, I visited with Kingfisher Public Schools, Chisholm Trail Technology Center, Cimarron Electric Co-Op, Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Mountain Country Foods, the US Gypsum Company, OEM Systems and Temtrol.
At that time, the employers of the district were concerned about rising insurance rates, maintaining an adequate labor force, the availability of affordable housing for their workers, and overburdensome government regulation. We did pass legislation to incentivize the construction of more affordable housing in 2014.