We need to put pressure on members of the House of Representatives Speaker Frank Chopp and Governor Christine Gregoire to get Engrossed Senate Bill 5566 passed out of the State House. Labor is adamantly opposed to the bill and House Labor and Workforce Development Chair (and longtime Snohomish County Labor Official) Rep. Mike Sells is blocking the bill from even getting a hearing. We need House leadership to pull the bill to the floor so members of the House can vote on it.
ESB 5566 will bring long-term reforms and significant savings to Washington’s Workers’ Compensation system. The fiscal note for the bill shows a $1.2 billion savings in the first two years.
Key points of ESB 5566 are that it provides a new flexible benefit option for workers to voluntarily settle workers’ comp claims as used in 44 other states. It protects injured workers who choose to settle benefit claims with innovative “best practice” sideboards to ensure fairness. The bill provides a partial wage subsidy for employers to encourage faster return to work for injured workers; requires first-ever utilization outcome and cost study for reforms; and directs a rigorous independent study and report of important employer concerns about occupational disease claims which can serve as the basis for future reforms.
Benefit levels are not diminished. In fact injured workers still receiving medical care can settle a claim and still receive periodic payments for medical treatment and reopen a settled claim if a medical condition gets worse.
Organized labor is adamantly opposed.
We have a real shot at passing ESB 5566 if we can just get the bill scheduled for a vote. Please contact your House members Speaker Chopp the Governor Rep. Sullivan and Rep. Pettigrew today!