| February 25, 2009

Work comp reform: 'If not now, when?'

As we pointed out in this month's issue of Perspective, it's past time for workers' compensation reform.

The state's largest newspaper seems to agree. "Reform of the workersʼ comp system has been undertaken many times and one lawmaker wants to do it again," The Oklahoman notes in an editorial today. "Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, would like to replace our lawsuit-based system with an administrative system similar to that used in Arkansas. But the chairman of the committee where his bill was assigned says the measure isnʼt likely to be heard. Changes to workersʼ comp are being explored, Rep. Dan Sullivan said, 'but not a wholesale change this year.'

"If not now, when? Republicans control the House and the Senate for the first time in state history. Thereʼs no guarantee that will be the case two years from now. With little money available to haggle over this session, lawmakers should focus on issues that can make a real difference for Oklahomans. One is workersʼ comp, a system that for too long has enriched some lawyers and shady workers while placing costly burdens on businesses large and small."

With Republicans at the national level apparently rediscovering their spines, this is no time for Republicans at 23rd and Lincoln to be going wobbly on us. I trust that's not what's happening with Speaker Benge and Rep. Sullivan, yet their reticence on work comp reform is puzzling. For as The Oklahoman put it, "If not now, when?

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