Democrats Push Workers Comp Reform Through Illinois Senate
Legislation aimed at reducing the cost of workers' compensation insurance for Illinois employers has won Senate approval, but not the approval of most Republicans.
The measure, which originated in the Illinois House, has become the Senate Democrats' compromise on the issue that has been demanded by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Its main component would be to require insurance companies that write workers' compensation insurance to get rates pre-approved by the state Insurance Department.
Chicago Democrat Kwame Raoul sponsored the bill.
"I know workers comp”, Raoul said on the Senate floor. “I’ve practiced workers comp on behalf of employers. This, if implemented right, will save employers money, and I urge an aye vote."
The measure passed 35-19 and now returns to the House for concurrence.
The bill received almost no support from Republicans, who were quick to criticize the Democrats’ measure.
State Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington called the bill “severely weakened and ineffective” in a news release, and said Senate Democrats “have again signaled that they are no longer interested in working with the other party to pass real solutions or a balanced budget”.
Illinois Manufacturers’ Association President Greg Baise also criticized Senate Democrats for having “walked away from the table when a workers’ compensation agreement was imminent that would have made Illinois more competitive and helped protect our middle class.”
Another workers comp bill that gained Senate passage Friday is sponsored by Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Daniel Biss. It would create a government insurance company to compete in the policy-writing market. It was approved 32-20 Friday. It goes to the governor.
Workers compensation reform has been one of the items insisted upon by Gov. Rauner in his Turnaround Agenda. He says workers' compensation insurance is too costly in Illinois. Democrats say they previously made reforms in Illinois that saved significant money, but that the savings weren’t passed onto employees.