Several reforms to the state’s system of paying injured workers are headed to the Senate floor, while negotiations on the final version of a bill to revamp the workers’ compensation system continue.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed a handful of workers’ compensation reform bills Tuesday, including House Bill 2659 by Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa, and Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, that would create the position of medical director. That person would review the medical treatment and recommendations for treatment of injured workers. Another reform would prohibit an injured worker from having an active workers’ compensation claim and a civil lawsuit at the same time unless the worker could demonstrate an employer was aware of dangerous conditions and did nothing to fix it. House Bill 2650 by Sullivan and Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Oklahoma City has passed the House and now moves to the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Charlie Laster voted against most of the workers’ compensation reform bills, saying he thinks the rights of workers were being neglected in the debate. "There seems to be no attempt to bring in both sides to try to work on this issue,” said Laster, D-Shawnee. Laster also said it didn’t appear that Gov. Brad Henry had been involved in the discussion of how to make changes to the workers’ compensation system. "I can’t speak for the governor, but in the past he has made it clear that when he’s not involved in negotiations there are usually not good results,” Laster said.