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Workers’ comp bill heads to house

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A bill that would overhaul our state's workers' compensation court has been approved by the senate and is now headed to the house.

"It's a pretty good-sized bill but it's a radical change for businesses in Oklahoma," co-author of SB 1062, Senator Kyle Loveless, (R) Oklahoma City, said.

The 260-page bill would change our current court system to an administrative system.

"What this new system would do will put it into an administrative system and almost like a mediation type of situation to where that the ultimate arbiter and the ultimate decision maker is a trial but you have to go through several steps to get there first," Sen. Loveless said.

Sen. Loveless said the new system would save Oklahoma businesses close to $200 million over our current one.

But the bill has many opponents.

"It's really unheard of to just throw out an entire system and come up with a new system and I think it's a step in the wrong direction," attorney David Slane said.

Slane said he fears the new system could leave injured workers and their families behind.

He said one problem is that the new system would allow businesses to opt out.

"There's a provision that would allow employers to opt out of the workers' compensation system altogether if they can replace it with something else without telling us what that something else can be," Slane said.

Under the new bill, workers' comp claims would be decided by a panel of administrative law judges who would be appointed by a trio of commissioners.

Those commissioners would be appointed by the governor.