Friday, May 27, 2011

Illinois 'Nuclear Option' - Politics or Common Sense

Illinois is in the throes of "reform" politics, with the deadline for moving a bill to the Governor's desk fast approaching (May 31).

In the background is Rep. John Bradley's (D-Marion) amendments to SB 1933 that would repeal the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act. The bill was originally filed by Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, and as passed by the Senate, dealt with unclaimed property and wages.

The amended legislation, titled, the “Workers’ Compensation and Workers’ Occupational Diseases Transfer and Transition Act,” would divest the Workers’ Compensation Commission of jurisdiction over all actions over which it has jurisdiction on Dec. 31, 2011, and would assign those actions to the circuit courts.

In the meantime, "reform" politics is stalled over the standard that determines compensability. Employer groups want a more strict standard than “injuries must be during the course of employment”.

SB 1933 has a reasonable chance of getting to the Governor's desk for signature if the Illinois Legislature doesn't compromise - in that case employer groups may wish they had the less strict standard of compensability.

The Illinois employer lobby needs to decide if it wants to risk civil liability in exchange for the chance to start with a clean legislative slate. Sounds like quite a gamble since their reason for seeking "reform" was due to the high cost of work comp.

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