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Liotta to become third chair of Workers’ Compensation Commission
Shawn Ashley, eCapitol

Former Rep. Mark Liotta will become the third chair of the Workers’ Compensation Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin announced Tuesday.

Liotta, from Sapulpa, will succeed Robert Gilliland, whose term on the commission expires Aug. 25. Liotta’s appointment as chair will take effect the following day. He has completed two years of a six-year term; he was appointed by the governor on the recommendation of former House Speaker Jeff Hickman.

“Mark is aware of the critical role the Workers’ Compensation Commission has in our state,” said Fallin. “During his time on the commission, he has worked hard so our system is saving businesses hundreds of millions of dollars, and injured workers are being treated fairly, getting help, and getting back to work quickly.

“In his professional career, Mark has shown a remarkable ability to bring order, effectiveness and harmony to complicated systems,” she said. “His efforts at the Workers’ Compensation Commission have steadied the management of a new state agency, and he has been instrumental in improving the administrative structure and work product of the commission. He has also shown restraint and strict adherence to statutory guidelines in his decisions in the appellate work of the commission.”

Liotta was serving as chief deputy to the Tulsa County Board of County Commissioners and as chairman of the Oklahoma Employees Insurance and Benefits Board, which used to be known as OSEEGIB, the Oklahoma State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board, when the governor appointed him to the Workers’ Compensation Commission in April 2015. Liotta owns a 40-acre cow/calf operation in Creek County.

From 1996 to 2006, he was elected to five terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, where he served as chairman of the House Republican caucus, appropriations chairman for general government and transportation, and a presiding officer of the House floor.

“I am fortunate to have the governor’s confidence, and I intend to continue the commission in the direction we have taken over the last two years,” Liotta said. “Our goal is to provide unbiased, nonpolitical decisions based solely on the law and the evidence presented, while completing efficient and predictable docketing and adjudication of cases.”

During 2016, the Workers’ Compensation Commission continued to see a drastic reduction in the number of claims, compared with 2012, the last year its predecessor, the Workers’ Compensation Court, reported its number of cases. The commission in 2016 also saw an increase in the percentage of cases being handled without trials.

From 2008 to 2012, Oklahoma’s net five-year premium level ranked as worst in the country with a 19.8 percent increase, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). However, from 2012 to 2016, Oklahoma led the nation with a 34.3 percent decrease in net five-year premium rates, according to the NCCI. Oklahoma businesses since 2013 also have seen a reduction of 30 percent in their premium costs.

Legislation that established the Workers’ Compensation Commission calls for the governor to appoint all three members, with one appointment recommended by the speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Gilliland will be succeeded on the commission by Megan B. Tilly, who was appointed by Fallin in May. Gilliland is the last of the original commissioners appointed to the commission after it was created in 2013.

Troy Wilson was the first chair of the commission, serving in that post until May 2015.

The commission began operating Feb. 1, 2014.

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