Constitutionality of Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Law Upheld

December 17, 2013

A constitutional challenge to Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation law has been rejected by the state’s highest court.

In a ruling on Dec. 16, the Oklahoma Supreme Court said Senate Bill 1062, which was signed earlier this year by Gov. Mary Fallin, “is not unconstitutional as a multiple-subject bill.” Oklahoma’s Constitution contains a single-subject rule requiring legislation to address just one subject.

A lawsuit challenging the constitutional validity of the bill was filed in September by Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole, Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, and the Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma and its president, Rick Beams.

The lawsuit alleged that parts of the law were vague, overly broad and amounted to unconstitutional logrolling, or combining multiple subjects into one bill. The Court found, however, that all sections of the bill are inter-related and pertain to one subject, workers’ compensation.

The suit attacked several components of the bill, including a provision that would allow employers to “opt-out” of the administrative system and create their own benefit plan for injured workers.

The Court’s decision has been praised by lawmakers who supported it, as well as state Insurance Commissioner John Doak, who stated: “The new law has already shown significant workers’ compensation insurance rate decreases across the state and will continue to bring positive change to our state by ensuring Oklahoma is one of the best places to do business.”

 

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