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AIM participates with business groups against “toxic exposure” language in HB404

Associated Industries of Missouri is among a group of leading business organizations in opposing changes to House Bill 404 that would bring back toxic exposure language rejected by the Missouri House just last week.

Changes under the Senate committee substitute for House Bill 404 would establish a new fund to pay additional benefits to victims of toxic exposure and a new tax in the form of a surcharge to pay for claims against the fund.

House Bill 404 was scheduled for debate on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, before it was laid over by its sponsor.

Ray McCarty, president of AIM, sees the language as an attempt to scuttle the progress made on Senate Bill 1, the so-called “fix” for the Second Injury Workers Compensation Fund. In an open letter to legislators, AIM and the other organizations call for support of Senate Bill 1 and a rejection of HB 404.

“We are so close to an historic solution to the Second Injury Fund problem, we don’t want anything to cloud the issue,” said McCarty. “The House has already spoken strongly on this issue, and we strongly support Senate Bill 1 as it now stands.”

Senate Bill 1 clarifies that worker’s compensation is the exclusive remedy for occupational diseases. The bill establishes a guaranteed benefit for victims of ten occupational diseases resulting from exposure to toxic substances.

Below is a copy of the letter:

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AND SECOND INJURY FUND

SENATE BILL 1

AND

HOUSE BILL 404

EMPLOYER ORGANIZATIONS URGE LEGISLATURE TO REJECT SOCIALIZATION OF TOXIC EXPOSURE DISEASE COSTS

SUPPORT RESPONSIBLE APPROACH REFLECTED IN HOUSE THIRD READ VERSION OF SENATE BILL 1

The organizations listed below represent many Missouri employers.  On behalf of these employers, we respectfully request the legislature adopt the provisions of Senate Bill 1 as Third Read by the Missouri House of Representatives.

We support the provisions in the Third Read version of Senate Bill 1 that clarify worker’s compensation is the exclusive remedy for occupational diseases, as it has been for decades, and establishing a guaranteed benefit for victims of ten occupational diseases resulting from exposure to toxic substances.  The latter provision ensures employees contracting diseases following exposure to toxic materials and chemicals will be guaranteed to receive the benefits established in the bill. We also support provisions of the bill that will reform and provide funding for the Second Injury Fund.

We oppose SCS House Bill 404 because the costs of toxic exposure disease claims are socialized.  ALL employers would be asked to pay for these claims. The SCS for House Bill 404 establishes a new fund to pay additional benefits to victims of toxic exposure and a new tax in the form of a surcharge to pay for claims against the fund.  This approach is simply not fair to employers that have never exposed employees to harmful chemicals or substances. The limitation on the surcharge to support the “Toxic Disease Fund” is likely to prove insufficient to meet obligations of the Fund in future years and we do not believe it is responsible to create a fund that is likely to require additional employer tax increases in the future.

Thank you for your consideration.

Jack Atterberry, Associated General Contractors of Missouri, Inc.

Ray McCarty, Associated Industries of Missouri

Dan Shaul, Missouri Grocers Association

Tim Phelps, Missouri Merchants & Manufacturers Association

David Overfelt, Missouri Retailers Association

Mike Winter, Missouri Self Insurers Association

Brad Jones, National Federation of Independent Business

John Bryan, The Poultry Federation

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