Workers' compensation and health care reforms, as well as continued funding for economic development programs, are among the issues that The State Chamber of Oklahoma and a coalition of local chambers of commerce will advocate for this year at the state Capitol.
The group, including the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Tulsa Regional Chamber, unveiled the legislative agenda for the year Wednesday.
With more than 30 bills filed this session aimed at changing Oklahoma's workers' compensation system, the issue will be one of the centerpieces of the chambers' 2013 legislative agenda, state chamber President Fred Morgan said.
At least two bills on tap this legislative session are aimed at replacing the state's judicial workers' compensation system with an administrative system.
The current judicial system for handling workers' compensation cases is too costly and time consuming for both businesses and workers, Morgan said.
“Our system is broken as much for the employees as it is for the employers,” Morgan said.
The chambers also will advocate for the continued funding of economic development incentives. While some tax credits and other incentive programs have come under scrutiny in recent years, the programs are vital to grow the state's economy, said Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
“We can't be competitive without incentives,” Williams said. “We have to have incentives to get new businesses here.”
Improving access to health care in the state is another issue that the chambers plan to press for this year, said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber.
The chambers support a plan to reduce the number of uninsured Oklahomans, including the creation of a private sector health insurance network and developing a strategy to fund Oklahoma's Medicaid program that would fully reimburse state hospitals for Medicaid services.
“We want to expand access to health care in the state and keep federal tax dollars in Oklahoma,” Neal said.