Part of workers' compensation bill has constitutional problems, Oklahoma House Democrats say

House Democratic leader says having open claims eventually going to district court is ‘blatantly unconstitutional.'
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: March 22, 2013
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House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, has said he generally supports the measure, but the House will take its time with the measure to look at how the bill would reduce compensation benefits available to injured workers. If changes are made to the bill in the House, it would have to return to the Senate.

Backers say SB 1062 would bring system costs and compensation benefits in line with neighboring states. Savings would come, they say, by going to an administrative system instead of the present adversarial court system, which can lead to delays in cases. The State Chamber said Oklahoma ranks as the sixth-highest in workers' compensation benefits awarded to injured workers.

Inman called SB 1062 a “Trojan horse for rolling back significant workers' benefits.”

Nathan Atkins, spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, the author of the measure, said the bill is a good product and would withstand “any kind of constitutional challenge.”

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