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Pro-Business Workers' Compensation Bill Put On Hold

A bill that would limit workers' compensation benefits has been paused after passing the state House of Representatives last week.

House Bill 296 would allow employers and insurers to stop paying workers' compensation benefits if an injury isn’t resolved within 15 years. Those with permanent disabilities or amputations would continue to receive lifetime benefits under an amendment to the legislation approved by the House.

The bill was scheduled for a Senate committee hearing on Monday morning but was not taken up as lawmakers try to hammer out a compromise.

Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr of Lexington said a new version of the legislation might be heard this week.

“I think what we’re looking at with all workers’ comp issues is to weigh out how we’re working to help the injured worker versus how are we helping and benefiting businesses and their concerns,” said Kerr, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Tourism and Labor.

The legislation is opposed by injured workers and unions.

Nicolai Jilek with the Kentucky Fraternal Order of Police said the bill would lead to poorer employee performance.

“If you want to have a successful business or if you want to have a successful police department, you’ve got to have employees or police officers that are able to show up to work and are healthy that feel free to meet all the requirements of their job,” he said.

Kerr said there might be a carve out for police officers who make workers' compensation claims in a substitute version, but lawmakers were still discussing the issue Monday afternoon.

The current legislation would also prevent workers compensation cases from being reopened more than four years after an award is originally granted resolved and workers would have to file claims for cumulative trauma within five years of an injury.

Supporters of the legislation say it would help cut back on workers' compensation fraud.

This story has been updated.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor of Kentucky Public Radio. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.

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