Workers' comp bill pulled
A bill that would change how Oklahoma's injured employees are compensated for their medical costs and missed time at work was not heard Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee. “We did not hear the bill today because we are in the process of reviewing the workers' comp bill to make it a stronger system that protects workers and drives down costs for business,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, the committee's chairman. Senate Bill 1062 could be heard next week. The advisory board that oversees the workers' compensation court earlier this month criticized SB 1062 and asked state legislators to take another look. Board members called the legislation unworkable. SB 1062 would replace the court-based system with an administrative one and would allow employers to opt out of the workers' compensation system and provide their own form of coverage. Firefighters last week rallied against the bill because it would reduce benefits available to injured workers.
Sierra Club opposes Agenda 21 bill
The Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club said Tuesday it opposes House Bill 1412, which would prohibit Oklahoma communities from having anything to do with the United Nations Agenda 21 plan. David Ocamb, director of the Oklahoma chapter, said unintended consequences of the bill threaten research at universities, conservation programs in local communities, and access to data and research at public libraries. HB 1412, which passed the House and is waiting to be heard by a Senate committee, also would prohibit the state from contracting with or exchanging funds with a nongovernmental or intergovernmental organization accredited by the U.N. Members of the Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club endorsed legislative efforts, such as HB 1039 and Senate bills 716 and 920 to support local farmers through easing governmental restrictions upon them and minimizing burdens associated with the effort to sell their products. And they supported HB 1923 and SB 996, which would offer drought assistance to farmers through the Emergency Drought Relief Fund.
State gets an A- in transparency
A national transparency report has given Oklahoma an A- in financial transparency, up from a C+ the state received last year, state Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger said Tuesday. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund's “Following the Money 2013” report rates states on online access to government spending information. Oklahoma's Office of Management and Enterprise Services maintains several websites providing state financial information, including OpenBooks and data.ok.gov, where people may access millions of records related to government spending. Oklahoma's score was 91, up from 78 in 2012. The report grades states based on online availability and accessibility of information pertaining to state expenditures, revenues, contracts, tax credits, grants and other financial information.
MICHAEL MCNUTT, CAPITOL BUREAU