One major change to employee benefits simply allows permanent partial disability (PPD) payments to be deferred when an employee can return to the same basic job at the same pay. The longer the employee works, the more the PPD award is reduced until it's eliminated. Under current law, individuals can receive multiple PPD awards indicating disability exceeding 100 percent — yet the worker returns to the same job at the same pay.
That doesn't make sense to most Oklahomans, and the new law addresses that problem while still ensuring workers can get a PPD payment should an employer arbitrarily fire them. This is a reasonable trade-off that lowers employer costs while protecting workers' job security and income.
The accomplishment of this longtime goal owes much to Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa. While the new law required buy-in from many actors, more than any other legislative leader Bingman made workers' comp reform a primary goal of this session. At different times, Fallin and House leadership appeared less than enthusiastic about the effort, but Bingman and Senate Republicans persevered. Now major reform is a pen stroke away from becoming law.
As we've said before, Republican legislative supermajorities should be used to pursue big goals. Bingman has done just that.
Major workers' compensation reform has been decades in the making, and legal challenges will doubtless be pursued by those vested in the current system. Nonetheless, this is a good day for Oklahoma.