Latest from T.W. 

Okla. Speaker of the House, T.W.Shannon talks policy, change



Via KFOR


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Making Laws, Making History



From KSWO, Channel 7 News:

“One of the driving forces behind landmark legislation at the Oklahoma Capitol this year is Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon of Lawton.

“During this three months at the helm of the chamber, Republican lawmakers have come close to tackling issues they’ve been pushing for since they first won control in 2004.

“Be sure to join us tomorrow night as seven news anchor Monte Brown explores Shannon’s success and his fast rise in leadership as the first African-American and Lawtonian to lead Oklahoma’s largest legislative body.

“Making Laws, Making History,” airs tomorrow night at six, on seven news.”


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Oklahoma House Passes Monumental Workers Comp Reform



OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 1062, a measure that creates monumental reform to Oklahoma’s workers compensation system.

SB 1062 will convert the state’s current judiciary workers compensation system to an administrative system. Oklahoma is one of only a handful of states that still uses an adversarial judiciary system and businesses suffer from some of the highest workers comp insurance rates in the country due to the system’s inefficiencies. Currently, workers who are injured on the job could wait years for a benefits judgment due to the slow and costly legal process under the current judicial system.

“This is an epic reform, decades in the making,” said House Speaker T.W. Shannon, the House author of SB 1062. “For far too long, injured workers have been neglected and small businesses have been punished by an adversarial system that only benefits personal injury attorneys. Today, that system is dead, replaced by a strong new administrative system that will protect injured workers and lower costs for businesses.”

Under the administrative system proposed in SB 1062, workers compensation cases will be heard by an administrative judge, and cases will receive quick resolutions.

“We must compete with other state’s in our region for skilled workers and business,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and presenter of HB 2032. “That means Oklahoma must move to a system that quickly and adequately addresses workers comp cases. Neither workers nor businesses will tolerate an archaic system in a 21st century job market.”

“Businesses will be pleased but it is the workers who will see what I believe is the greatest benefit,” said Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa. “The new administrative system is designed to help workers get back on the job through therapy and vocational rehabilitation so they can move on with their lives.”

SB 1062 will now move to the Oklahoma Senate for final approval of the House’s amendments and will then move to the desk of Governor Fallin to be signed into law.

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Frivolous Unemployment Claims Measure Earns Governor’s Signature



OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure aimed at reducing frivolous unemployment benefit claims has been signed by Gov. Mary Fallin.

House Bill 1911, by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, gives clear definitions of employee misconduct that would disqualify a terminated individual from receiving unemployment benefits.

“It’s time we address the concerns of employers and reduce the number of bogus unemployment claims in our state,” said Shannon, R-Lawton. “We can do so by preventing bad employees from filing frivolous claims and rewarding them for bad behavior in the workplace. I applaud Gov. Fallin for signing this measure into law.”

The bill also requires people seeking benefits to acknowledge that they are aware of these definitions.

“Oklahoma has lacked clear rules and definitions concerning workplace misconduct for too long,” Speaker Shannon said. “Unfortunately, this has left the door open for those who wish to file frivolous claims which in turn raise employers’ rates and reduces the money available to those who truly deserve benefits.”

According to the United States Department of Labor, Oklahoma paid out more than $16 million in improper unemployment benefits payments in 2012. A portion of these improper payments is due to unemployment fraud.

The new law goes into effect Nov. 1.

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Workers’ Compensation Reform and Pay-As-You-Go Infrastructure Plan




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Fallin, Legislative Leaders Announce Agreement on Tax Cuts, Workers’ Compensation Reform and Pay-As-You-Go Infrastructure Plan



OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin, Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman and House Speaker T.W. Shannon today announced agreement and impending action on key legislative items, including income tax cuts, workers’ compensation reform and a plan to address long-term infrastructure needs. Three bills were identified as having the support of both the governor and majorities in the House and Senate.

House Bill 2032 would cut the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5.0 percent on January 1, 2015. It would cut the rate further, to 4.85 percent, on January 1, 2016. The second cut is contingent on total revenue growth in FY 2016 being equal to or greater than the FY 2016 fiscal impact of a 0.15 percent tax cut. The bill also provides for a total of $120 million to fund repairs to the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Senate Bill 1062 reforms the workers’ compensation system in Oklahoma. It reduces legal costs, medical costs, and excessive payouts to workers that have driven up costs for Oklahoma businesses and encouraged fraud. It moves Oklahoma from a court-based workers’ compensation system to an administrative system, reducing the adversarial nature of the system and reducing the time needed to process claims. It ensures that injured workers are treated fairly and compensated appropriately.

House Bill 1910 creates a Pay-As-You-Go Infrastructure Plan and forms the Long-Range Capital Planning Commission which will first address the repair of the state Capitol and later develop an 8-year plan to address the state’s other maintenance issues. The commission’s plan will create a system for maintenance to address the state’s needs without incurring unnecessary debt. It will also include recommendations on reallocation, reuse or liquidation of state properties.

Fallin said she looked forward to signing the measures into law, saying the announcement set the stage for a productive legislative session.

“My thanks go out to the Speaker and the Pro Tem for working together with my office on these important issues,” Fallin said. “Delivering a responsible, meaningful tax cut will boost our economy and help us to create more jobs and bring more businesses to Oklahoma. Likewise, overhauling our flawed workers’ comp system will reduce costs to employers and allow them to invest in jobs and growth rather than lawsuits. Finally, our long-term infrastructure improvement plan will ensure we are maintaining and improving state assets, rather than watching them deteriorate. Today’s announcement represents an exciting, important step forward for Oklahoma. I look forward to signing these three measures into law.”

Bingman said that workers’ compensation reform would address the state’s greatest obstacle to job growth.

“Today’s announcement shows our commitment to government that is smaller, simpler, and smarter,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “Our broken workers’ compensation system is Oklahoma’s greatest obstacle to job growth, and I believe the time has finally come to put the brakes on our runaway costs. Moving to an administrative system will attract quality manufacturers back to Oklahoma, and together, our tax cut and workers’ compensation overhaul plans are an important step toward creating more certainty in Oklahoma’s business environment. Additionally, our long-range infrastructure plan shows a forward-thinking approach to good stewardship of taxpayer-owned assets. I am thankful for the leadership shown by Governor Fallin and Speaker Shannon as we have worked to craft agreements on issues of such importance to Oklahoma’s future.”

Shannon said the three bills would support Oklahoma growth and prosperity.

“Our offices have come together to ensure a better future for Oklahoma,” said Shannon, R-Lawton. “These three crucial measures prove that the conservative leadership of this state is committed to government efficiency, reducing the tax burden and becoming better stewards of our citizen-funded infrastructure. Through implementing monumental workers’ comp reform, cuts in the personal income tax, and a Pay-As-You-Go infrastructure plan, we are moving forward with responsible policies that will produce growth and prosperity for the people of our great state. As I have said many times before, we will not go down the same path of Washington, D.C., by continuing an endless cycle of taxing, spending and borrowing against the future of our children.”

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Speaker Shannon to Address Cameron 2013 Graduates



Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W Shannon, will deliver the commencement address for the Cameron University 2013 graduates on May 10 at 7:30 p.m., at Cameron Stadium.

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Senate approves tax credit for foster parents



OKLAHOMA CITY - The Senate gave overwhelming approval to legislation Wednesday that would give foster parents an additional financial incentive for taking in foster children. House Bill 1919, by House Speaker T.W. Shannon and Sen. A.J. Griffin, would provide a tax credit for foster parents.

“Most foster parents spend way more on their foster children then they receive from DHS. The monthly supplemental simply isn’t enough to keep up with the cost of supporting a child,” said Griffin, R-Guthrie. “The state is working hard to find ways to attract more foster parents and the best way to do that is through financial incentives. Foster parents can’t list their foster children as dependents on their tax returns like they do for their own children. This bill would allow foster parents to apply for a tax credit, which will help them save money that they can then use to support their foster children.”

HB 1919 authorizes an income deduction for foster care expenses beginning January 1, 2014. The deduction is capped at $2,500 for single persons and $5,000 for married individuals filing a joint return.

“Oklahoma can never reach its potential until we live up to our moral imperative to see after the least among us, and these children are our most vulnerable,” said Speaker Shannon, R-Lawton. “These children face tough situations not having a true home environment for safety, security and sustenance. This deduction will help Oklahomans who have opened their homes to children who are in desperate need of love and hope.”

The enacting clause was stricken in Senate committee so the measure will now be assigned to a conference committee for further consideration.

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