What an outstanding year for Oklahoma business. The Legislature just concluded one of the most pro-business legislative sessions in our state’s history. After more than two decades of work, our state will soon have an administrative workers’ compensation system that will be better for both employers and employees. Businesses will also have the option to offer alternative workers’ compensation coverage that better suits the needs of the company and employees. Our current extremely expensive and slow adversarial system will no longer be an impediment to economic growth. This change will be revolutionary for our state and will undoubtedly help us attract and retain jobs and investment.
The Legislature and governor also lowered the personal income tax rate without shifting the burden to business, improved our economic development efforts through maintaining critical business tax incentives and secured unemployment benefits for those truly in need of a safety net. It continued the fight against frivolous lawsuits and took steps to help further develop our state’s compressed natural gas capacity and utilization, among many other pro-business measures passed this year.
There are two reasons why we were successful this year: advocacy and engagement.
We have worked hand in hand with the business community to help elect pro-growth legislators who understand the needs of business. We have statewide elected officials who know what it takes to grow our state’s economy. As a result, the quantity and quality of pro-business legislation passed and signed into law this session are unprecedented.
We also saw the business community united like never before. Businesses from across the state coalesced behind the need for historic workers’ compensation reform and the power that coalition created was critical to success. The Oklahoma business community spoke with a loud, unified voice in favor of pro-growth policies and the Legislature and state leaders listened.
We must continue the fight. This year’s pro-business legislative results prove how important it is for the business community to stay engaged on issues that affect our state’s economy and jobs. There is still much work to do to make Oklahoma the premier place to do business in the nation. I can promise you we are only getting started and our state’s economic future is bright.
Fred Morgan is president and CEO of The State Chamber of Oklahoma.
OKLAHOMA CITY (June 4, 2013) – State Chamber President & CEO Fred Morgan comments on today’s Supreme Court ruling striking down the Comprehensive Lawsuit Reform Act of 2009:
"We are extremely disappointed in today’s ruling, as the court has chosen to legislate from the bench instead of exercising judicial restraint."
"The dissent rightly points out, “the legislature and the public understood the common themes and purposes embodied in the legislation; it was tort reform.” Too often the activist arm of this court misuses Constitutional terms like “special law” and “single subject” to strike down any law they do not like, subverting the will of the duly-elected representatives of the people."
"Regrettably, the activist judges on this court have shown they will continue to anoint themselves the ultimate arbiter of the state’s social, moral and legal values. It is clear Oklahomans need to take a serious look at revising our state Constitution to protect the people from an activist judiciary."
OKLAHOMA CITY (May 6, 2013) – State Chamber Senior Vice President of Policy Analysis & Strategic Planning Mike Seney comments on Gov. Mary Fallin’s signature today of Senate Bill 1062, workers’ compensation replacement legislation:
“Today is a historic day for the state of Oklahoma. For decades our broken workers’ compensation system has been a hindrance to business and a complication for injured workers trying to get quality care in order to return to work. Those days are now over,” said Seney. “With Gov. Mary Fallin’s signature of Senate Bill 1062, Oklahoma will now have a more cost-efficient and easier to navigate administrative workers’ comp system that will be better for the employer and employee alike. This change in law will exponentially improve our state’s ability to compete for jobs and investment.”
Reforming our state’s workers’ compensation system has been a decades-long battle. We are now only one of two states with an antiquated court-based system that is bad for both businesses and workers. Even that’s about to change, as Tennessee’s House has voted to eliminate the state’s court-based workers’ compensation system.
It takes too long for injured employees to get the care they need to get back to work. The outcome of the care they eventually receive has been rated subpar compared to other states. This is unacceptable, and it has been why the Oklahoma business community has fought so long for major changes in our current system.
Those much-needed changes are here. Senate Bill 1062 has been passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate and will soon head to Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk for final consideration. We applaud the legislative leadership for skillfully and expeditiously moving this historic bill through the Legislature.
OKLAHOMA CITY (April 24, 2013) – State Chamber President Fred Morgan comments on today’s House passage of Senate Bill 1062, workers’ compensation replacement legislation. The bill passed with a vote of 74-24 and now returns to the Senate for consideration of House amendments.
“This is the most important piece of reform legislation to our state’s workers’ compensation system in more than two decades. In fact, it is one of the most important pro-business bills passed in the history of our state,” said State Chamber President Fred Morgan. “Moving to an administrative system will help reduce out-of-control costs, while improving the process and experience within the system for the employer and employee alike. This legislation will exponentially improve our state’s ability to compete for jobs and investment.
“We are fortunate to have a Legislature that understands business and what it takes to grow our state’s economy. I applaud the legislative leadership for skillfully and expeditiously moving this historic bill through the Legislature. Gov. Mary Fallin has been a champion of workers’ compensation reform for decades, fighting for a system that reduces costs for business and treats injured workers fairly. Senate Bill 1062 is the reform Oklahoma has been waiting for, and we look forward to the Senate accepting House amendments and Gov. Fallin signing this legislation into law as soon as possible.”