The Edmond Sun

January 22, 2013

Legislature should tackle workers' comp reform, Edmond reps say

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Workers’ compensation reform will be an area of focus for state Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher, as the Legislature convenes Feb. 4. Oklahoma has a big problem with workers’ comp, he said.

Redistricting in 2011 brought District 22 representative Johnson, an attorney, to represent a sliver of Edmond going west through Deer Creek and Piedmont. He spoke recently at a legislative breakfast sponsored by the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce.

“That’s something we’re seriously looking at. Sen. Anthony Sykes is actually kind of taking the lead on that as the chairman of our Judiciary,” said Johnson, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary, and vice chairman of the Judiciary and Rules Committee.

Johnson said he’s confident that the House and Senate will work better this year in reforming workers’ comp.

“I think we have better communication,” said Johnson, who was born in Edmond.

The 2013 Legislative Agenda of the Edmond Chamber “supports reform of the Workers’ Compensation Program to address the problem of the high cost to businesses and the low benefit to workers,” the agenda states.

A proposed workers’ comp bill will cut claims cost by 50 percent, said state Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Edmond, chairman of the States’ Rights Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committee, Public Health and Social Services Committee, Insurance Committee, and the Utility and Environmental Regulation Committee.

“We have a work comp bill that will use the state risk manager to manage the state workers’ comp, and drive the cost down there a great deal,” Moore said. “We have a work comp bill that will require drug and alcohol testing for all work comp claims done at the point of treatment.”

A workers’ compensation claim would not be eligible for an employee with drugs or alcohol in their system, Moore said.

In addition, Moore will introduce a wellness bill for a 235-mile long trail along the historic Chisholm Trail, he said. | 341-2121