May 9, 2013
Re: S-1778 Public Safety Workers’ Compensation
Earlier today, the Senate Labor Committee voted to release S-1778, which concerns workers’ compensation for public safety workers. The bill is now scheduled for a final vote in the Senate on Monday. We are concerned that this bill could increase local costs. In our testimony today, we asked that a Fiscal Note on the legislation be prepared by the Office of Legislative Services before any further action is taken on this bill. Before this bill advances any further, Legislators need to know what budgetary impact it would have on municipalities and property taxpayers.
Please contact your State Senator to express your concerns with the possible cost impact of this bill.
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.
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. Creating rebuttable presumptions such as this bill does 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. Current law provides that opportunity. 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. The cost of defeating a presumption, as well as the fact that some will likely slip through, will increase costs for all taxpayers.
For these reasons, the League respectfully opposes this bill. A companion measure, A-1196, awaits action in the Assembly. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.