Associated Industries of Missouri and a broad coalition of employer groups are asking Speaker of the House Tim Jones to stop the progress of Senate Bill 1 and return the bill to a House-Senate conference committee.
The following is a message that AIM president Ray McCarty sent to Speaker Jones Wednesday morning.
Dear Speaker Jones,
The Senate passed the CCS for Senate Bill 1 early this morning/late last night. The bill contains enhanced remedies for 10 toxic exposure occupational diseases. Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) and a broad coalition of employer representative groups, continually maintained that we wanted to address only the agreed upon language to restore solvency to the Second Injury Fund because the language under consideration regarding occupational disease would be too expensive. Rather than clarifying and restoring coverage for occupational diseases, the Governor and the trial bar have insisted upon “enhanced remedies” for ten toxic exposure diseases. Our request to address the Second Injury Fund only was rejected by Senate leadership and the bill passed the Senate very early this morning.
While I and other representatives of several groups were given the opportunity to view the language of the Conference Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 1 and were asked to look at the language from a technical perspective, we continued to express our desire that the bill should address only the Second Injury Fund. We provided a list of technical changes that needed to be made to align the bill with the version passed by the House. Those changes were not made. But even if they had been made, our position remains unchanged: we prefer the legislature pass only the agreed upon Second Injury Fund language.
The companies that have the types of claims that would be covered by the special enhanced remedy language understand the bill opens the door for future carve-outs from the workers’ compensation system. By providing enhanced remedies for toxic exposure diseases, the overall cost to the workers’ compensation system will increase.
We recognize Rep. Todd Richardson has worked hard on the bill and has greatly improved communication with all of us during this process; however, the end result will still be very costly for employers. We will support a bill that addresses the Second Injury Fund only.
Thank you for your leadership on this issue and for any help you may provide in stopping this bill, sending it back to conference, or otherwise passing legislation that only addresses the agreed upon language to restore solvency to the Second Injury Fund.