Maine Senate Passes LD 443, Strengthening Workers Comp for Seriously Injured Workers, 18-16 (VIDEO; TEXT)

Posted on June 12, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

troy sleevesLast night, the Senate voted 18-16 to strengthen workers’ compensation insurance benefits for workers who were injured on the job through no fault of their own. The GOP-led 125th Legislature had amended the 1992 Maine’s Workers’ Compensation Act, altering the process and requirements by which injured workers receive benefits beyond the established 10-year threshold among other changes. LD 443, “An Act To Amend the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act of 1992 To Provide Benefits to Seriously Injured Workers”, sponsored by Assistant Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash, repeals some of the more onerous provisions.

While the new law allows injured workers with 18 percent impairment to continue receiving benefits beyond the 10-year cap, an independent medical examiner must verify that the employee’s actual earnings are in line with their earning potential. This however remains difficult to ascertain. There are many instances where injuries may be considered only 5 percent or 10 percent impairment, but still have the practical impact of significantly hindering a worker’s ability to do the job.

Sen. Andre Cushing (R-Penobscot) speaks in opposition of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 1)

Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 1)

    “To some, injured workers are disposable commodities. They’re just a statistic,” said Senator John Patrick (D-Rumford), who is a co-sponsor of the bill and the Senate chair of the Labor Committee. “These are some of the most vulnerable people in the state and they were completely thrown under the bus. We can do better. This is Maine. We don’t turn our backs on our workers.”

Sen. Doug Thomas (R-Somerset) speaks in opposition of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act

Sen. Jim Boyle (D-Cumberland) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act

“I have seven employees who work for me, and I strongly support improved workers comp for my employees,” said Senator Jim Boyle, D-Gorham, a small business owner. “Most of the other decisions about my business are mine: I decided who is hired, who is fired, whether we have health insurance. Workers’ comp is not up to me. It is a protection for the men and women who work for my business. People need this protection. It is fair, and uniform, and I strongly support it.”

Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 1)

    “Injured workers have already been dealt a bad hand,” said Senator Jackson. “They need to be able to focus on their health and not worry about when they’re going to lose the only benefits they have left.”

Senator Andre Cushing speaks in opposition of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 2)

Sen. Stan Gerzofsky (D-Cumberland) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act

Sen. David Burns (R-Washington) speaks in opposition of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act

Sen. John Patrick (D-Oxford) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 2)

Sen. Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) speaks in support of LD 443, amending ME Worker Comp Act (Pt 2)

The bill faces more votes in both chambers before it goes before Governor LePage.

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