(Oklahoma City) In an effort to end a stalemate over the Multiple Injury Trust Fund, Senate President Pro Tempore Stratton Taylor and House Speaker Larry Adair are appointing a new joint committee to continue work toward compromise legislation.
The two legislative leaders announced their plan to name a special bipartisan committee Friday, saying it was important to continue discussions on the issue.
"No matter how unattainable a compromise may seem at this point, we owe it to the injured workers to keep trying. As long as we have people willing to sit at the table and work through their differences, I think we have a good chance of solving this very complex problem," said Senator Taylor (D-Claremore).
"It's a very difficult and complicated issue, but we can't abandon Oklahoma's injured workers. We will keep working until we have an agreement that we can bring before both houses of the Legislature," said Speaker Adair (D-Stilwell).
The Multiple Injury Trust Fund, which makes payments to some 2,000 disabled workers, is scheduled to run out of money on October 19th.
After several weeks of negotiations in September, legislative leaders and Governor Keating thought they had a compromise agreement that would solve the MITF problems. That proposal was sidelined, however, when opposition surfaced shortly after lawmakers returned for a special session earlier this month. A new negotiating committee was subsequently appointed, but it concluded its work this week without producing a new compromise.
Speaker Adair and Senator Taylor say they hope the new committee will be able to work through remaining differences next week and draft a bill that can be considered by the Legislature in special session the following week. The two leaders have set October 23rd as a tentative date for reconvening the special session.
The bipartisan committee will be composed of Democratic and Republican members of Legislature and representatives of the governor's office.
House Speaker Adair's appointees include Rep. Jari Askins (D-Duncan), Rep. Fred Stanley (D-Madill), Rep. Danny Hilliard (D-Sulphur), Rep. Fred Morgan (R-Oklahoma City), Rep. Greg Piatt (R-Ardmore) and Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Oklahoma City).
Senator Taylor's appointees are Sen. Brad Henry (D-Shawnee), Sen. Cal Hobson (D-Lexington), Sen. Keith Leftwich (D-Oklahoma City), Sen. Jim Dunlap (R-Bartlesville) and Sen. Scott Pruitt (R-Tulsa).