Washington state: Group collects signatures for vote on workers' comp reform
The Building Industry Association of Washington, a construction trade group, recently turned over 340,000 signatures to state officials -- nearly 100,000 more signatures than required by the July 1 deadline to land Initiative 1082 on the ballot this fall. The measure would allow private insurers to enter the state's workers' comp system to compete with the Department of Labor & Industries in offering employers coverage.
The ballot initiative is the latest strategy by trade organizations and business groups that have been unsuccessful in pushing through workers' comp reform proposals in the Democrat-led Legislature. The BIAW said the measure, which has been endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business, Association of Washington Business, and other organizations, is necessary to save a "costly and inefficient workers' comp system on the verge of insolvency." The group noted that while work-related injuries have decreased 55 percent in recent years, L&I's costs to manage these claims have increased by more than 80 percent.
Initiative 1082 would create a Joint Legislative Task Force on Private Competition for Industrial Insurance charged with developing proposed legislation to conform current statutes to the provisions of the initiative and make recommendations by December 2011. The Legislature would then be required to adopt legislation to fully implement the policy directives by March 1, 2012. In addition, the initiative would eliminate the worker-paid share of workers' comp taxes. Washington is the only state that allows employers to deduct a portion of workers' comp taxes from employee's wages. The measure would require employers to pay the full amount.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 9, 2010
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