Legislative Staff Release
Legislation reforming the state’s workers’ compensation court and system passed House committee today.
Senate Bill 1973, by Rep. Dan Sullivan, would reduce the number in the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Court from ten to eight and requires five of the judges to be permanently assigned to the court in Oklahoma City and three to the court in Tulsa.
The bill also increases workers’ compensation judges’ terms from six to eight years, and imposes a single-term limit on any new judges. Senate confirmation would be required to fill any new vacancies on the worker’s compensation court. Finally, judges must have at least five years of workers’ compensation experience prior to appointment, among other reforms.
“These simple changes would add more accountability to the workers’ compensation court, which will lead to lower costs overall for our businesses and streamlined services for injured workers,” said Sullivan, R-Tulsa. “Our workers’ compensation system is broken, and we must make changes or risk driving businesses out of our state.”
The legislation also addresses issues with how cases are handled and how to provide a savings in the cost of the system all while maintaining the best medical care for workers.
“In this budget environment, we must do all we can to encourage economic growth and job creation in our state. Our workers’ compensation system is currently a hindrance to that growth and must be reformed,” said Benge, R-Tulsa.
The bill passed the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee this morning (Wednesday, April 7) with a vote of 9-5 and will next be heard in the full House.