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Oklahoma governor voices support for workers' compensation overhaul

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin told an Oklahoma City chamber of commerce breakfast Thursday she supports overhauling the judicial system for the state's workers' compensation system and replacing it with an administrative one.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: February 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm •  Published: February 22, 2013

Fallin said high premium rates are a huge barrier to economic growth in the state.

“Now is the year for the Legislature to send me a major overhaul of our workers' compensation system so we can for once and for all address this issue,” she said, drawing applause from about 250 who attended the breakfast at Oklahoma Christian University.

Bingman's measure, if passed and signed into law, would require that effective Jan. 1 claims for workers' compensation would be heard and decided by a panel of administrative law judges who would be appointed by a trio of commissioners.

Oklahoma, one of two states with a judicial system handling cases of workers hurt on the job, has 10 workers' compensation judges.

House and Senate Democrats have said changes are needed in the workers' compensation system, but it's premature to make a major overhaul. They said measures passed and signed into law two years ago include changes intended to lower premium costs. Those changes are just now taking effect.