Assistant Majority Leader Jeff Rabon said after Lt. Governor Mary Fallin and Senate Republicans pulled their petty political stunt Thursday, it was obvious that they were the party quickly becoming the road block for true workers’ compensation reform.
Rabon, a Hugo Democrat, said there are still four weeks left in session and two measures still alive to address the issue before session adjourns on May 27th.
“Senate Republicans derailed their own workers compensation measure when they chose to put their personal political ambitions above the needs of Oklahomans,” Rabon said. “This type of foolishness only has a negative effect on the process.”
Rabon said Republicans in the Senate do not have the majority and they need to stop acting as if they do.
“Their ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ approach to workers’ compensation will get them no closer to a bill being signed into law than did their childish political games that played out yesterday in the Senate chamber,” Rabon said. “When they are truly ready to continue good faith negotiations and are willing to stop their gubernatorial campaigning then we will be able to act on the two measures that are still out there to address workers compensation reform.”
Rabon said Lt. Governor Mary Fallin needs to do the ceremonial things she does in her job and allow the Senate do conduct the business of the people of whom they were elected to serve.
“Under Senate rules that were adopted by a majority vote at the beginning of the legislative session, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate or the person he designates shall preside over the Senate,” Rabon said. “After these rules were adopted by both parties, the Republicans don’t want to play by the rules and want to instead, march to the beat of their own political drum.”
Rabon said he and fellow Senate Democrats refused to take part in the Republican political game of setting the stage for their run at the Governor’s mansion in 2006. He said that Senate Democrats did chose not to answer a quorum call initiated by the Lt. Governor because Senate Democrats believe workers’ compensation reform is far too important an issue to allow one member to stop good faith negotiations.
“Senate Democrats respect the rules of the Senate, which were adopted by a majority vote, and for us to have gone into that chamber and engage in their political grandstanding would have been a disgrace to the institution that has been a model for democracy in Oklahoma since statehood and a disservice to the people whom we are elected to serve.”
Rabon said for Senate Democrats to engage in the Republican political games would have meant putting thousands of injured workers at the mercy of greedy insurance companies.
“Some in the other party are trying to turn workers’ compensation into a political buzz word and this issue is far too important to use as a political pawn. What this issue should be about is striking the balance between protecting the truly injured worker while lowering the cost of business for Oklahoma companies,” Rabon said “I see nothing moral and just about compromising the rights of injured workers just so insurance companies can enjoy enormous profits.”
Senator Rabon concluded by saying the clock was ticking on workers’ compensation reform.
“We have an opportunity to enact meaningful workers’ compensation reform in this state,” the Senator said. “But now thanks to the political stunt of the Senate Republicans and Lt. Governor Fallin, there is less time to work on this issue and they have only themselves to blame.”