Okla. Goes to Special Session; Senate Leader Hopeful for Meaningful Workers’ Comp Reform

Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan announced he is confident a special session on workers’ compensation reform will result in legislation to save millions for Oklahoma businesses while preserving the rights of workers injured on the job.

“We were just so close to passing meaningful workers’ compensation reform that struck the balance of protecting the rights of injured workers and lowering the cost of doing business,” Sen. Morgan, (D-Stillwater) said. “The time constraints of the session just didn’t allow us to get it done.”

The Senate leader said negotiations on the issue of workers’ compensation reform continued, but lawmakers ran out of time to deal with the issue during the First Session of the 50th Oklahoma Legislature. Governor Brad Henry called a special session, which began May 27 on the last day of the session.

“We began the special session today by introducing legislation that will save Oklahoma businesses more than $100 million and protect the rights of injured workers to choose their own doctor,” Morgan said.

The measure, Senate Bill 1X, contains the same language on which lawmakers came close to an agreement in the regular session.

Morgan said he hopes the result of a special session on workers’ compensation is that the issue can be settled once and for all, and says that if all parties are serious about workers’ compensation they will come to the table willing to negotiate for the good of all Oklahomans.

Morgan said Senate Democrats refuse to “water down” the rights of injured workers and will continue to hold the line when it comes to protecting workers rights to choose their own doctor.

“During the special session, we will be able to focus on this single issue and I am hopeful we can get this issue off the table once and for all,” Sen. Morgan said. “We will ask the Republicans to come to this special session without their political aspirations in their back pockets and instead bring their willingness to do what’s right for the workers who are the backbone of this state.”

Morgan concluded by saying that workers’ compensation was just too important of an issue to let politics cloud the way to true meaningful reform.

“Certainly we would have liked to settle this issue in the regular session, but again ‘watering down’ the rights of injured workers for political gain is just not something Senate Democrats will support,” Morgan said. “And during this special session I am hopeful that everyone will understand that Oklahomans want and deserve their undivided attention on this very important issue.”

According to The Oklahoman, Gov. Brad Henry charged the legislature with sending him a bill within a week after the start of the special session.