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Legislators Agree to Additional Study On Workers Compensation Reform Legislation

Senator Mike Morgan and Representative Dan Boren announced Wednesday that they have agreed to withdraw Senate Bill 637 from consideration during the current legislative session, citing their desire to further study the issue.

Morgan, D-Stillwater, is the principal author of the measure. Boren, D-Seminole, is the House author.
Senate Bill 637 would change the way judges are appointed to the state's Worker's Compensation Court.

Morgan said the intent of the bill was to "ensure an unbiased and objective Worker's Compensation Court." Under provisions of the bill, incumbent judges would not automatically be considered for reappointment by the Governor. They would first have to be nominated, along with two other persons, by the Judicial Nominating Commission.

"The bill is meant to depoliticize the process of appointing Worker's Compensation Judges. As a member of the State Chamber and someone who believes in small business, I saw this bill as pro-business," Boren said.

The State Chamber, however, opposed the measure.

"They have raised concerns that we feel warrant further discussions. We've agreed to pull the bill this year and work with the State Chamber and come back with legislation everybody can support next session," Morgan said.

Boren said he is hopeful a compromise can be worked out.

Lawmakers are currently in the sixth week of the First Session of the 49th Oklahoma Legislature. Senate Bill 637 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee Feb. 19 and was scheduled to be heard by the full Senate this week. Under legislative rules, it will remain on General Order in the Senate and could be considered during the Second Session of the 49th Legislature in 2004.

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Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5605