Business community on the same page for Second Injury Fund reforms
The Missouri Senate’s Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee approved Senate Bill 1 today after the Senate adjourned this week in Jefferson City.
Associated Industries of Missouri and every other business group in Missouri supports the bill that brings reforms to Missouri’s Second Injury Fund and clarifies the workers’ compensation law includes coverage of occupational diseases.
“Business groups are united in a solution to fix the Second Injury Fund, which includes reforms and additional payments,” said AIM President Ray McCarty. “Plaintiff’s attorneys and organized labor argued against the bill due to the amount of funding. They don’t believe a three percent increase is enough, while business leaders know a six percent surcharge, combined with reforms, should be sufficient.”
The plan approved this morning contains five reforms of the Second Injury Fund:
Eliminates permanent partial disability claims
Limits future claims to previous injuries or conditions resulting from work or military service
Reduces the interest rate paid on outstanding SIF liabilities to the same interest rate charged by Missouri’s Department of Revenue on tax delinquencies
Provides a reasonable, temporary, additional funding source for the Fund (increase from three to 4.5 percent, allows the total surcharge to increase to a cap of six percent, with the cap returning to three percent in 2021)
Establishes a priority order for payment of claims.
The funding source has been a hot topic among business leaders. The increase from three to 4.5 percent would happen immediately to help pay for claims already awarded. However, the bill’s allowable six percent surcharge cap would only take effect if a majority of the Second Injury Fund Commission, made up of the governor, attorney general, speaker of the house and senate president pro tem, agree to the increase. The cap would then be reduced to three percent again in 2021.
“For years, Missouri’s business community has worked for real reform, but Missouri’s plaintiff’s bar has prevented reform,” said McCarty. “While greedy attorneys want to pad their own pockets by asking employers to sign a blank check, the business community will continue to encourage the legislature to enact reforms to protect Missouri employers and employees that truly deserve compensation for work-related injuries.”