Oklahoma State Senate
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
For Immediate Release: February
Henry’s ‘Watered-Down’ Workers Comp Plan Passes
on Party-Line Committee Vote
Gov. Brad Henry’s watered-down workers’
compensation reform bill was passed 5 to 4 on a party-line vote
by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.
“Senate Bill 846 does nothing to address the out-of-control
legal costs or the dueling doctors problem that are driving up workers’
comp insurance rates in Oklahoma,” stated Judiciary Committee
member Sen. Scott
Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow.
“The governor claims this is a ‘bipartisan’ bill,
but in reality it is an effort by the governor and Senate Democrats
to shield their trial lawyer friends from meaningful reforms –
just like they did last year during the lawsuit reform debate,”
James A. Williamson of Tulsa, the most senior Republican senator
on the committee.
“Meaningful workers’ comp reform is necessary in 2005
if we are going to improve our economy and attract new jobs and
higher wages to Oklahoma. Republicans and Democrats must work together
to make legal reforms a part of workers’ comp reform this
year,” Pruitt said.
In the committee, the bill’s supporters admitted that the
governor’s task force made absolutely no effort to determine
whether Gov. Henry’s proposal reduces the costs of workers
compensation insurance, and if so, by how much. Meanwhile, the House
and Senate GOP’s workers’ comp reform plan is estimated
to save employers more than $100 million a year on their workers’
Williamson said Henry’s proposal was just a “baby step”
when the state really needs comprehensive reform.
“This is not a time for the baby steps the governor is proposing.
Oklahoma needs real and comprehensive workers’ comp reforms
that reduce the involvement of lawyers in workers’ comp cases,”
Pruitt said that in Oklahoma attorneys are two-and-a-half to three
times more likely to be involved in workers’ comp cases than
the national average.
“Attorney involvement is definitely a driver of the high
costs of Oklahoma’s workers’ comp system, and this must
be addressed if we are to have meaningful workers’ comp reform,”
“We are still early in the process, so I am confident there
can be an agreement on a workers’ comp package that provides
significant savings to employers,” said Pruitt, the Senate
GOP’s point person on workers compensation reform.
Senate Communications Office - (405) 521-5774