Missouri Lawmakers Pass Legislation to Replenish Insolvent Worker’s Comp Fund
On Thursday, May 16th, Missouri lawmakers gave final approval for a measure that would double fees charged to businesses so that they can replenish an otherwise insolvent fund meant for workers who need workers comp after becoming disabled on the job.
The legislation currently waits for Governor Jay Nixon’s signature.
If the legislation passes that final step of approval, then, in the next year, payments to disabled former workers who have waited a long time for workers comp could start making their way out. About 1,200 disabled workers have been waiting for necessary workers comp after a budget shortfall. The measure could also finally clear the way for the attorney general’s office to begin settling the backlog of more than 30,000 pending claims against the disability fund.
Under a law from 2005, workers comp insurance premiums for businesses were capped at 3%, instead of being allowed to fluctuate based on the fund’s annual expenses. The fund is now in deficit because of that cap. The Second Injury Fund, which is the name of the measure, will allow the government to tack a surcharge onto the workers comp insurance premiums, which will in turn help pay the claims that have been delayed.
The measure could also change the way workers comp is processed in Missouri. Currently, many of the claims are tied up in workers comp court; however, if the measure passes, workers comp could be moved to a more administrative system, which in theory speeds up the approval process.
The House voted 135-23 Thursday to send the bill to the governor. The Senate passed it 33-1 a day earlier. Nixon has not announced whether he will sign the bill, though legislators are hopeful that he will.
House Speaker Tim Jones declared it “one of the crowning successes of the legislative session” that ends Friday.
“We are taking on and trying to offer a solution to a problem that is tens of millions of dollars in the hole to businesses and taxpayers of the state that accumulates exponential interest every single day,” said Jones, R-Eureka.
This new piece of legislation represents a compromise between the Missouri House and Senate, which previously passed different versions of the bill, as well as the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“Missouri workers deserve a fiscally sound resolution to this tremendous problem,” said Attorney General Chris Koster, who has urged legislators to either revamp or abolish the fund.
The Second Injury Fund also moves job-related illnesses back under the umbrella of workers comp, and will provide an enhanced benefit for toxic-exposure illnesses like mesothelioma.
The Strom Law Firm Understands Worker’s Comp Legislation
The workers comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local, county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800.