Workers Compensation Reform Battle Unites IL DemsMay 29, 2015
Democrats in both houses of the Illinois Legislature voiced their unity in blocking Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s attempts at workers compensation reform. Both House and Senate Democrats voted down the governor’s proposals for workers compensation reform, which would lower insurance rates for businesses and cut benefits for injured employees. Governor Rauner had threatened to call an emergency session for the summer if lawmakers fail to pass his bill before the legislative session ends this Sunday.
Senate Blocks Workers Compensation Reform Measure
Democrats in the Illinois Senate voted down the governor’s workers compensation reform proposal earlier this week. They approved numerous components of a $36.3 billion proposed budget, which would push the state’s spending deficit to $3 billion. Democratic Senators have expressed hope that the pressure of approving deficit spending will curtail Gov. Rauner’s efforts at workers compensation reform. Republicans opposed the budget on the grounds that it would violate the state’s constitution to approve an unbalanced budget.
House Dems Vote Against Workers Compensation Reform Bill
The Senate’s move follows a similar vote in the Illinois House of Representatives. House Democrats voted down a workers compensation reform measure that would have cut insurance rates. Democrat House Speaker Michael Madigan carried out several test votes to determine if the workers compensation reform would stand up to a vote. House Republicans favored the reform measures, claiming it would help the state keep and attract more businesses.
Drive Toward Workers Compensation Reform
The workers compensation reform measure was designed to attract businesses to the state and allow it to compete with neighboring states. Indiana has some of the lowest workers compensation insurance rates in the country, while providing minimal benefits to injured workers. Richard Goldberg, Gov. Rauner’s deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs, told news outlets that passing workers compensation reform will help “grow our economy (and) will have a lasting impact on our state’s future.”
Workers Compensation Reform Would Toughen Standards
Some aspects of the workers compensation reform measure would hamper an employee’s ability to receive benefits. The new measure would tighten the rules by which employees could establish that their injuries occurred on the job site. The bill would also call for decreasing payments to physicians who accept workers compensation claims. The decreased reimbursements could lead to doctors refusing to treat workers filing such claims. The state previously passed a workers compensation reform bill in 2011, but the results did not reap the savings legislators expected.
Source: Chicago Tribune
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