Wyoming: Governor signs legislation to boost workers' compensation benefits
Groups such as the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association, the Equality State Policy Center, and the Wyoming AFL-CIO, as well as some lawmakers, have been pushing the state to update its workers' comp benefits system, which they argued has not kept up with the cost-of-living and increasing medical expenses. Sen. John Hastert, D-Green River, said the problem is that Wyoming's benefits for injured workers are calculated on a system that is a decade old and has not maintained pace with inflation.
To address the issue, Hastert sponsored H.B. 54, which was signed into law in mid-March by the governor. Under the legislation, the state will:
- Boost benefits for spouses of workers who are fatally injured on the job.
- Adjust benefits for cost of living. For employees who are permanently injured on the job, benefits will increase approximately 3 percent.
- Expand college tuition benefits for children of workers who are killed on the job. The state will increase the age for which children of employees who are fatally injured on the job can receive college tuition benefits from 21 to 25.
- Place stricter requirements on the Workers' Safety and Compensation Division. Under the law, the state comp agency will be required to help pay for legal expenses in cases when it financially benefits from lawsuits involving employees injured on the job. In addition, the division will be required to reimburse employers for a portion of their workers' comp premiums if the state fund has a surplus.
The legislation goes into effect July 1.
March 26, 2009
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