Workers’ comp bills move to full Oklahoma Senate for debate

By Julie Bisbee Published: March 17, 2010
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/> In previous years, Henry has vetoed a tort reform package when he was not included in talks, he said.

Henry has not been involved in any negotiations on possible changes up to this point, said Paul Sund, the governor’s spokesman.

Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole said changes to the state workers’ compensation system are the product of conversations with workers’ compensation attorneys, business owners and treatment providers over the course of 12 to 15 meetings.

"We’re unsure at this point what the governor thinks of it,” Coates said.

A voluminous Senate bill is working its way through the legislative process proposes several changes to the state’s system, including changing how the court operates and limiting judges to one eight-year term. The goal is to get workers back to work more quickly and encourage employers to provide light duty work assignments for injured workers, Coates said.

"I have empathy for the injured worker,” said Coates, who was hurt on the job working construction. "I didn’t want to go back to work, either. I had aches and pains, but after a week or two on light duty I started to feel better. The longer people are off, the more likely they are to file for disability.”