Workers' comp bill works its way through Oklahoma Legislature

Senate leaders said an overhaul of Oklahoma's workers' compensation system is a top priority for the 2013 legislative session. A bill that would do just that is slowly moving closer to becoming law.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: April 8, 2013

The latest version of a bill that would overhaul significantly how the state processes on-the-job injury claims is expected to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

The revised version of Senate Bill 1062 maintains the most dramatic components of the initial one — a switch from a court-based to an administrative system, an opt-out option for employers that qualify — but alters some of the amounts workers would be compensated if injured.

Its title now stricken, House lawmakers have set the bill up for further amendments and discussions on conference level as they work with the Senate to reconcile the different bills into a single one that would be put before Gov. Mary Fallin for signature.

Michael Clingman, administrator of the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Court, said he takes that as a sign that lawmakers are still wrangling with key components of the proposed law change.

“I think it indicates there needs to be a lot more work done on the bill before it's in its final form,” he said.

The court's advisory board, which opposed the Senate draft of the bill, will meet Thursday to determine if the House draft is more acceptable.

Backers of the different proposals said either version will successfully reduce system costs and get injured workers treated and back to work at a faster pace.

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