The Oklahoma Supreme Court will now decide the constitutionality of the new workers’ compensation reform after great pressure by two state lawmakers and the Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma.
The full court will hear arguments from attorneys on Dec. 10 at 9 a.m. Proponents of the reform say the new administrative system will be more business friendly and allow businesses to shape their own compensation programs. Opponents say the reform will hurt workers by not providing appropriate benefits when injuries are sustained.
Oklahoma City attorney John McMurray said, “there are some very, very disturbing aspects,” in regards to the new legislation. McMurray argues that the law should be found unconstitutional on multiple grounds because the law violates state constitutional prohibition against logrolling, which means more than one topic is included in a single statute.
Local attorney Robert McCampell counters by saying the law is “constitutional in all respects.” McCampell argues that the three major parts of the law fall under one topic of workers’ compensation reform and represent alternate approaches to compensation claims.
Everything is boiling to the top as the new year is on the horizon. In February, the law is to take effect, unless the Oklahoma Supreme Court decides otherwise and asks lawmakers to revisit the bill.
For now, opponents will have to wait and see what the Oklahoma Supreme Court rules. If the law stands, then an administrative system will replace the judicial Oklahoma workers’ compensation system, allowing businesses to opt out of the old system as long as they provide equivalent benefits.