Workers' Comp Reform has Second Chance

The Senate began the 2013 session on a promising note quickly approving three bills that continue the workers compensation reform that began two years ago. Of the three bills Senate Bill 5127 passed with strong bipartisan support providing optimism that it would also make it out of the House.

That didnt happen but the special session provides lawmakers with another chance to approve SB 5127 a bill that would give injured workers age 40 and older the option to enter into voluntary settlements with the state Department of Labor & Industries. Officials estimate the change would result in a one-time savings of $230 million and an annual savings of $90 million.

Savings are important because the reforms passed in 2011 slowed big rises in premiums but didnt solve all of the problems plaguing the system. Unless lawmakers take the next step employers are facing big surcharges for years as L&I attempts to rebuild its depleted reserve fund. Building reserves is a good thing but doing it with large surcharges would hinder job creation.

AGC will continue to push this message with Legislators during the special session. For more information contact AGCs Legislative Counsel Van Collins at 360-352-5000.