Lt. Governor urges workers' compensation reform in Oklahoma

Oklahoma's Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb said he favors changing the workers' compensation system to an administrative one. He made his recommendation based on comments he heard from business owners in his travels across the state.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: January 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm •  Published: January 18, 2013
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Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb called on lawmakers Thursday to overhaul the state's workers' compensation system.

Lamb said he is recommending legislators either create an administrative system that eliminates the current judicial system, which he says is adversarial, or provide additional coverage options for businesses.

More efforts to investigate and combat fraud also are needed, he said.

Lamb's recommendations are included in his second annual policy and issues report to legislators and the governor. He based his suggestions on his travels across the state last year.

Lamb, asked by Gov. Mary Fallin to serve as her small business advocate, went to each of the state's 77 counties and held six small business and small manufacturer summits.

Legislators are expected to consider proposals that change the workers' compensation system to an administrative system or to allow certain large businesses to opt out of the workers' compensation system as long as they provide equivalent benefits to injured workers.

“The No. 1 issue discussed among business owners was the critical need for workers' compensation reform,” Lamb said. “Some workers' compensation measures have been approved in the past several years, but the call for an entire system analysis and reform by Oklahoma business cannot be ignored.”

Lamb said Oklahoma is one of two states that still have the workers' compensation court system; Oklahoma's system is the sixth-most expensive in the nation, he said.

“I think the state is moving toward administrative,” he said. “There's more of a focus on the administrative system.”

Lamb said other concerns from businesses include developing a skilled workforce and a stronger fraud enforcement division in the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission.



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