April contemplation brings May legislation?

Two weeks ago we reported on the failure of SB 1349, a comprehensive workers’ compensation reform bill introduced into the Senate by Sen. Kyle McCarter to pass the Illinois Senate. When it was called for vote on April 14, 2011, all 26 Senate Republicans voted in favor of the bill while six Democratic senators voted against it and the remaining 28 Democratic senators voted “present.”

The 28 “present” votes in the Senate on April 14 suggests that most Democrats agree that some legislation needs to be passed addressing the call for workers’ compensation reform, but the extent of the reform remains the heart of the debate. So far, there has been no proposed WC reform legislation offered by the Democrats in response to the proposal from the Republican senators outlined in SB 1349. The Democratic caucus is supposed to have a draft of its recommended reform bill available for review soon.

The state legislature went into recess for the last half of April, during which time both parties should have had time to contemplate what changes are necessary to enact meaningful reform and improve the business climate in Illinois. The ultimate goal of the legislature should be to bring the remedial intent of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission back to an even ground where legitimate employee work injuries are fully and fairly compensated, not overcompensated, and where frivolous and illegitimate claims are fairly and properly denied.

May is going to be a busy month in Springfield, and you can anticipate there will be a lot of talk of workers’ compensation reform. Governor Quinn tells the legislators, the press and anyone willing to listen that Illinois needs to improve the state’s business climate. To this point, however, it has been all talk in the legislature and the governor’s mansion, and no action has been taken regarding worker’s compensation reform.

Employers, both private and public, and their insurers throughout the state are being encouraged to speak with their state legislators about this issue and voice their position on the issues and what they would like to see as part of any reform legislation. Now is the time to be heard. There will be activity this month in Springfield, and it appears likely that there will be some form of legislation on the floor of the Senate and House that will impact the Illinois workers’ compensation system.

If you have any questions about the pending legislation and the proposed changes to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, please contact our office as we would be happy to discuss this with you. In the meantime, please continue to watch our blog for updates.

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