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Fallin Signs Sweeping Workers' Compensation Bill

Back injuries are a common workers' compensation claim.
Darcie
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Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law Monday a sweeping overhaul of the way Oklahoma treats workers hurt on the job. Senate Bill 1062 changes the state’s court-based workers’ compensation system to an administrative plan.

Supporters of the bill, including its authors, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman and House Speaker T.W. Shannon, say it will reduce costs for businesses.

But detractors, including many Democrats, say the new law saves money at the expense of injured workers and does nothing to reduce medical costs associated with workers’ compensation claims.

The bill was a major part of the Republican legislative agenda this session.

“For decades, Oklahoma has had one of the most expensive and inefficient workers’ compensation systems in the country, a constant obstacle for business owners looking to expand operations or create more jobs,” Fallin said in an emailed statement.

The change to an administrative system was also strongly supported by several chambers of commerce in the state.

“Everybody understands the administrative system is nothing but a Trojan Horse to do one thing, and that is to reduce benefits for people who have been injured on the job at no cost and no fault of their own,” House minority leader Rep. Scott Inman said during a debate on the bill.

The entire law goes into effect Feb. 1, 2014, with some provisions in place as early as the end of August.

READ: Fact sheet provided by Gov. Mary Fallin's office outlining the key points of the bill.

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