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Workers' comp reform to be Senate priority

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: December 9, 2012

A complete overhaul will require the support of both legislative chambers and the governor. When just one of the three leaders appears eager to take on that task, businesses have reason for concern. Still, we still think the chances for major workers' comp improvement are better this year than at any time in recent memory largely because businesses are clamoring for it.

Shannon's apparent nonchalance may be designed to gain political leverage in future negotiations rather than signal active opposition to an administrative system. If the Senate leader wants workers' comp reform badly, House leaders may make their support contingent upon Senate backing for Shannon's priorities.

That may frustrate business owners struggling with high workers' comp premiums, but it's an unavoidable part of the political process. Bingman will no doubt do the same thing to Shannon when given the chance. And the governor will do the same thing to both legislative leaders. But in the end, none of them wants to be seen as blocking pro-growth reforms demanded by Oklahoma job creators.

At the chamber event, House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, mockingly noted that “three or four” workers' comp reforms have passed in the past six years, each heralded as a major improvement, yet rates remain high. That's true — and the reason so many people now endorse a complete overhaul instead of tinkering at the edges.

Our advice to business owners wanting major reform: Stay engaged in the process. Internal political maneuvering at the Capitol may influence legislative tactics, but public pressure largely determines outcomes.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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