The Duncan Banner

April 26, 2013

Doak shares reaction to Worker’s Compensation changes

Derrick Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN —

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak touched on several topics Thursday, when he met with community members at the Duncan Chamber of Commerce & Industry office.
Doak’s discussions ranged from storm sirens and early warning cell phone updates to Worker’s Compensation changes. Many of the topics discussed were prompted by questions posed by community members.
“This is part of my commitment,” Doak said. “I’m here to talk a little bit about health care. Being back here in this area is very important.”
Doak is making his way to each of the 77 counties in Oklahoma, and this was his third visit to Duncan since taking office. In all, about 15 people were in attendance for Doak’s visit to the Chamber.
One of the biggest topics hit on by Doak was warnings for tornados. Doak said some of the deadliest tornadoes in the state’s history could have had fewer casualties if storm sirens were working properly and if there were other methods to warning residents.
Tammy Loyd, PowerShop director, said she lives in the Empire town limits and is often unable to hear storm sirens when they’re sounding during a storm. She said this is a concern for her when weather gets bad.
Doak said he visited Spavinaw, a couple of days ago. The town was recently hit by a tornado. He said the technology exists to better warn people of tornado sightings so they can get into storm shelters or other safe areas.
“You need some type of public place they can go,” Doak said. “You need warning systems in the area. That advance notice helps save lives.
“Spavinaw wasn’t too bad. It would be great if we had a year without a major storm.”
Chamber President Chris Deal said Duncan has started signing people up for Blackboard, which is provides weather safety updates via smartphones.
Another sizable issue addressed by Doak was Worker’s Comp, which is undergoing a transformation in the two state legislative chambers. The state may be changing to an administrative system from a judicial system.
Deal inquired about the impact that could occur if large employers choose to opt out of the new Worker’s Comp system.
“It works very well,” Doak said. “Competition is one of the best ways to keep rates low. We do know it’s worked very well in Texas.”
Doak said the change in system has been needed, and the work done in this legislative session is moving the state in the right direction. He said some larger companies may opt out of the program, but may also be innovative in their efforts to provide Worker’s Comp.
“I think there’s going to be some very good points to this,” he said. “It’s step in the right direction.”