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WORKERS' COMPENSATION REFORM
2004 Priority Issue

Issue:

The debate in Albany is centered around cost saving reforms vs. a benefit increase. The Business Council has been advocating for reform of the Workers' Compensation system. There are currently three major proposals before the state legislature. The Business Council is supporting S.5320 (Libous)/A.8862 (Schimminger) which provides for comprehensive, cost saving, fundamental reforms including durational limits on permanent partial disabilities; old age social security and pension offsets; changing the way scheduled loss of use awards are paid; and adopting objective medical guidelines.

Organized labor is supporting a benefit increase which will raise benefits from the current $400 maximum a week to $625. Under this proposal the maximum benefit will be indexed to the statewide average weekly wage <A.9736 bill text>. TBC has written a memo of opposition on this bill.

The Governor has introduced a program bill which provides a balanced approach by providing both cost saving reforms for the business community and a benefit increase for injured workers. The Business Council believes that the Governor's package is fair and well balanced <S.6841>. For a side by side comparison of the three bills you may click here www.bcnys.org/whatsnew/2004/0422analysis.htm.

Status:
8/12/04

S.5320 - referred to Senate Labor 1/7/04
A.8862 - referred to Assembly Labor 1/7/04
A.9736B - reported and referred to Ways and Means 6/21/04
S.6135B - amended and recommitted to Labor 6/17/04
S.6841 - referred to Senate Labor 4/15/04
A.10975 - referred to Assembly Labor 4/22/04

6/22/04 No action to date on Libous/Schimminger proposal nor the Governor's Program bill. AFL-CIO's proposal moved from the Assembly Codes Committee to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee yesterday. We expect this bill to move to the floor for a vote.  No action in the Senate at this point in time. The Business Council continues to meet with members of the legislature and the Executive Chamber to push for reform measures.