The bill would extend the current Second Injury Fund Supplemental Surcharge at a maximum of 3% for three years. The Surcharge will sunset in December 2021 without legislative action.
Business groups, including Associated Industries of Missouri, initially testified in support of extending the surcharge, but qualified their testimony by asking the surcharge only be extended at a maximum of 2% for a period of two years. This position is based on recent actuarial reports showing the Second Injury Fund Supplemental Surcharge need only be set at 2% to provide sufficient funding.
The Second Injury Fund Supplemental Surcharge was originally enacted to pay down a large backlog of claims against the Second Injury Fund that had built up as the Fund went broke at the hands of plaintiffs' attorneys that regularly sued the Fund and received compensation for their clients for injuries that were not related to work or service in the military - the original reason for the Second Injury Fund. The abuse was so bad, political TV commercials mocked the Fund and its management by some in the Attorney General's Office at the time.
"We watched as plaintiffs' attorneys bled the Second Injury Fund dry - a fund that was set up to provide employment opportunities for returning war veterans with a service injury, but became a source of payment for injuries sustained at home or play rather than work," said Ray McCarty, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri. "Plaintiffs' attorneys loved the Second Injury Fund. While we want to meet employers' obligations in paying proper work-related claims, we do not want the Fund to receive more employer money than is absolutely necessary for the proper operation of the Fund. The actuarial study says they need 2% and that should be the maximum amount of the surcharge, period," said McCarty.
Rep. Veit, the sponsor of the proposal, is a prominent practicing attorney with the Carson and Coil Law Firm in Jefferson City, according to his official biography. Mr. Veit’s litigation practice is primarily devoted to representing personal injury plaintiffs, employees, workers’ compensation claims and condemnation cases for landowners whose property is being condemned for eminent domain purposes, according to the law firm website.