Chickashanews.com

Business & Politics

April 12, 2010

Workers’ comp reform leaps another hurdle

— Work inside the state Capitol is progressing nicely.

The legislative session has only about seven weeks left and this year’s session is flying by.

Here’s a rundown of some of the highlights from this past week.

READY FOR WORK

A new position created last year to consolidate information technology services among state agencies has been filled and the person hired is ready to work.

Alex Pettit, the state’s first Chief Information Officer, told the House this week he hopes to generate savings quickly with his role in streamlining state government.

The position was created last year in an effort to consolidate information technology services among state agencies. The legislation incorporated the recommendations of recent studies to improve the delivery of information technology services and to maximize the state’s investment in technology.

Until Pettit was hired, Oklahoma was one of only four states in the country to not have a chief technology officer. Estimates are that a minimum of over one million dollars in savings to the state are projected in the first year alone.

WORKERS’ COMP

REFORM PASSES

The House passed important legislation out of the committee process last week. Senate Bill 1973, which would reduce the number judges from 10 to eight, as well as requiring Senate confirmation required to fill any new vacancies on the worker’s compensation court. Finally, judges must have at least five years of workers’ compensation experience prior to appointment, among other reforms.

These simple changes would add more accountability to the workers’ compensation court, which will lead to lower costs overall for businesses and streamlined services for injured workers. This now heads to the full House for a vote.

INCREASING

CYCLE SAFETY

Two measures making the rounds in committee will offer new options for safety and awareness training. House Bill 2264, would use a portion of collected fees to establish a motorcycle safety and education program for new motorcycle drivers.

Also, Senate Bill 1670 aims to establish an advisory committee for motorcycle safety and training.

Both measures would make the roads safer for motorcycle enthusiasts and regular drivers alike, so I’m glad that both measures are heading to the governor for his signature.

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