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Senate leader: On workers' comp, status quo isn't acceptable

BY STATE SEN. BRIAN BINGMAN Modified: February 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm •  Published: February 24, 2013

The Oklahoma Senate is narrowly focused on a policy agenda to improve economic opportunity and prosperity for our state — now and in the future. The single greatest threat to economic growth, and with it the quality jobs that will help boost our communities, is Oklahoma's adversarial workers' compensation system.

This is one of the only states using a judicial system to resolve workers' compensation cases. It's a fundamentally adversarial system. We pit employees against employers in a courtroom. The result has been disastrous for business, for Oklahoma, and most importantly, for injured workers.

Oklahoma's system is one of the most expensive in the nation. Workers' compensation insurance premiums fluctuate wildly, sometimes from year to year, resulting in great uncertainty for businesses. This kind of uncertainty is concerning to businesses from out of state looking to relocate. It makes it difficult to recruit businesses to come here when we aren't even remotely competitive with other states in our region.

One recent study by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services placed Oklahoma's premium, $2.77 per $100 of payroll, at 147 percent of the national median. Our costs are the sixth highest among all 50 states. For comparison, premium rates are $1.19 in Arkansas, $1.60 in Texas, and $1.54 in Kansas. Business professionals across Oklahoma lament that we're simply not competitive with our surrounding states. And they are absolutely right.

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