The Oklahoma State Senate passed a referendum late Tuesday that will send Workers Compensation reform to Oklahoma polls next year.
Following the Governor’s veto, Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee said, “We are disappointed in the Governor’s veto, because we’ve worked very hard to bring responsible reform and increased accountability to the Oklahoma’s Workers Compensation system. Contrary to what the Governor said, this legislation removes the politics from the process, and we look forward to sending this to the people for them to have the final say.”
Moments after Governor Henry vetoed Senate Bill 609, the Senate passed House Joint Resolution 1041 that allows Oklahoma voters to decide the outcome of Workers Compensation reform. HJR 1041 mirrors the provisions in SB 609, yet sends the legislation as a referendum to the vote of the people.
Senate Bill 609 would have brought reform to a Workers Compensation system in much need of overhaul. The legislation recently passed both the House and Senate, yet was vetoed by Governor Henry on Tuesday afternoon.
In his veto message, Governor Henry claimed SB 609 would politicize a non-partisan process, but Senator Clark Jolley, author of HJR 1041, disagrees.
“Both of these pieces of legislation remove politics from the judicial nominating process that is currently dominated by the trial bar, by promoting a checks and balances system our forefathers believed was better,” said Jolley. “Upon passage of HJR 1041, Oklahomans will determine the final verdict on workers compensation reform.”
HJR 1041 requires Senate confirmation of appointments to the Workers Compensation Court and appellate courts. This legislation is not unique, as Oklahoma will join numerous other states in having systems that have Senate confirmation.