Improving Oklahoma is at the top of Senator Anthony Sykes’ (R-24) to-do list.
Through a combination of various issues, from lawsuit and workman’s compensation reform to streamlining logistics, Sykes plans to do just that.
“We want to do everything we can to attract business and industry to Oklahoma,” said Sykes. “My lawsuit reform package will help with that. It is something that will level the playing field. Many of the surrounding states have already passed legislation similar to this. With them doing that, we are at a competitive disadvantage.”
The package includes Senate Bills 862 - 866. The bills are as follows:
- SB-862 will eliminate joint and several liability, protecting defendants from judgments that exceed the degree to which they are at fault (for example: Preventing a person or company from having to pay for 90 percent of damages when they have only 50 percent of fault)
- SB-863 will put a hard cap on non-economic damages at $250,000.
- SB-864 will require that compensation from sources independent of a defendant shall be submitted as evidence to the jury and subtracted from the amount of damages recovered from the defendant.
- SB-865 will require that juries receive accurate information regarding tax impact on awards.
- SB-866 will allow for periodic payment of future damages rather than requiring that awards be paid in a lump sum.
Sykes will try to tackle Oklahoma’s workman’s compensation issue with SB-878.
“When I was representing businesses as an attorney, the number one complain I heard was that people were moving jobs out of the state because of workman’s comp. costs,” said Sykes. “There are accidents that are expensive and deadly, those things happen. There were a lot of abuses to our system. We want workers to be compensated and injuries to be treated. We don’t want the system to be abused.”
Facing the budget, Sykes said everyone in the state knew tough decisions would have to be made.
“Public safety, infrastructure and education are chief in my mind,” Sykes said. “Anyone who has not been under a rock knows that cuts are coming.”
Even with a projected $400 million deficit, Sykes said there is a breath of fresh air at the state capital. He attributes that improvement to the presence of Governor Mary Fallin.
“She is engaged in the process and she actively participates in the issues,” said Sykes. “It’s been a breath of fresh air. To have a governor who is engaged and wanting to do the best to recruit business and industry to Oklahoma is great. Before you have employees you have to have employers.”