May 22, 2013
RE: Change in Workers’ Compensation ‘Burden of Proof” Would Add Local Costs
S-1778 Awaits Governor’s Action
On May 9, we wrote to alert you to pending action on S-1778. This legislation 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.
We are concerned that this bill will increase local workers’ comp costs and cause a wave of expensive litigation. Consequently, we had requested that the Office of Legislative Services be asked to prepare a Fiscal Note on the bill, before it advanced from Committee. Instead, it was released from Committee on May 9, passed by the Senate on May 13 and, on Monday, May 20, approved by the General Assembly.
The bill has reached the Governor’s Desk. Please reach out to the Governor’s Office and ask that, in the absence of an analysis of the costs, it be vetoed.
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.
For these reasons, the League respectfully opposes this bill. 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.