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Mon December 16, 2013
Oklahoma Supreme Court Upholds Workers' Comp. Law
The Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected a constitutional challenge to the state's new workers' compensation law.
The court handed down the ruling Monday, just one week after justices heard oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the law.
House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) authored the measure that changes the state's workers' compensation system to an administrative one.
“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has taken the time to consider the constitutionality and the merits of this new system,” Shannon said in a statement. "These reforms create a new and modern system that protects workers and is fair to Oklahoma businesses. The archaic and confrontational system this state has relied on in the past did little for workers, hurt business and only benefited the handful that profited from such a dysfunctional system. This ruling ensures Oklahoma is moving in the right direction.”
The court rejected allegations the law contains multiple subjects in violation of the Constitution's single-subject rule that legislation address just one subject.
The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber served as an intervenor in the lawsuit.
"SB 1062 will remove unnecessary obstacles for our businesses and provide an efficient avenue for our injured workers to get the help they need to return to work," vice president of government relations at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Mark VanLandingham, said in a statement. "The ruling of the Oklahoma Supreme Court on SB 1062 is a major win for businesses and employees across the state of Oklahoma."
The ruling says all sections of the new law are inter-related and refer to the single subject of workers' compensation or the way employees may ensure protection against work-related injuries.
The legislation was signed into law by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin in May. It was challenged in the lawsuit by state Sen. Harry Coates, state Rep. Emily Virgin — both Democrats — and the Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma.