January 25, 2013 URGENT LEGISLATIVE ALERT
Re: A-1196, Public Safety Workers’ Compensation, Scheduled for Assembly Floor Vote Monday, January 28
A-1196, (Stender, Egan, O’Donnell) which concerns workers’ compensation for public safety workers, is scheduled for a vote by the full Assembly this Monday, January 28. The League opposes this bill and we urge you to contact your Assembly representatives immediately.
Specifically, this bill would create a rebuttable presumption that if, in the course of their employment, a public safety worker is exposed to a carcinogen, pathogen, or psychological trauma, that the resulting injury, disability, chronic or corollary illness or death is compensable under workers' compensation.
The bill is available online at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2012/Bills/A1500/1196_T1.PDF
Clearly, as a society we must take care of our first responders. They are the first line of defense for our citizens in the face of industrial accidents, environmental incidents, terrorist attacks, and much more.
However, we must also balance our responsibility to our public safety workers with our responsibility to the taxpaying public at large. By establishing a rebuttable presumption this bill will increase costs for municipalities, and those costs will be passed on to taxpayers.
If a public safety worker is injured in any way due to their employment, they should have every opportunity to claim workers compensation benefits and to show that their injury occurred during their official duties. Unfortunately, if such a rebuttable presumption is put into law, there may be numerous employees with preexisting, non-work related injuries that will attempt to claim workers compensation benefits. In addition to higher insurance premiums, the costs of defeating a presumption will increase costs for all taxpayers.
The Senate companion, S-1778 (Greenstein) is referenced to the Senate Labor Committee. Please contact your Assembly representatives immediately and ask them to oppose A-1196. Questions can be directed to:
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.