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Major California work comp proposal facing legislative roadblocks

In workers' compensation defense news, the halls of the California State Capitol Building are currently abuzz over whether state lawmakers will consider a rather significant work comp proposal in the remaining few weeks of the legislative session.

The 300-page proposal, which was crafted by labor groups and a collection of large, self-insured employers over the course of several months, calls for around $700 million in additional permanent disability benefits to be awarded to injured workers and $1.4 billion in savings for the state work comp system.

Interestingly, the negotiated proposal recently earned the praise of Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker, as well as tacit endorsement from Governor Brown's office.

"Employers and labor have made enormous progress in solving problems with the workers' compensation system and they should stick to it," said Evan Westrup, a spokesperson for the governor.

While the proposal certainly has its fair share of supporters, it is not necessarily generating much enthusiasm in Sacramento, where state legislators -- seemingly left out of the negotiations until late in the process -- are questioning whether it could actually pass this session.

"When there's a major proposal like this in the last two weeks of the legislative session we have to be careful about taking a close look at it and making sure it's well vetted," said Todd Moffitt, legislative director for Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield).

In fact, Fuller's office had to organize a meeting with the large employers involved in crafting the proposal just last week to learn more about what exactly it entails and pass this information along to other party members.

Various reports have indicated that the proposal will soon be inserted in Senate Bill 863, which has to do with work comp liens. However, SB 863 was recently taken off the active file and there are no indications this will change anytime soon.

Casting further doubt on the prospect of the proposal coming up for a vote is the fact that a hearing before the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee to discuss the matter was recently cancelled and not rescheduled.

"It's the last few weeks of session. It's difficult for us to really manage and look at all the details they want reformed," said Sen. Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster), a member of the committee. "I just think it's kind of last minute on their part."

Stay tuned for further developments on this important workers' compensation defense law story ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Source:

Insurance Journal, "Calif. workers' comp deal gains support of government," Don Jergler, August 17, 2012

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