Looks like workers’ comp reform is dead for the year. We previously criticized Tacoma’s own Rep. Steve Conway for blocking his own speaker pro tem’s bill from getting a hearing. Now, Conway’s counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle, says she’s not budging either.
Kohl-Welles is backing a task force to study the issue, pointing out that a similar group helped create the state’s vocational rehabilitation program. That process took 18 months. The question is whether the workers’ comp system can wait that long. From the Seattle Weekly story:
Judy Schurke, Director of the Department of Labor and Industries, which oversees workers’ comp, didn’t really take sides, but she said some kind of reform needs to happen soon. Thanks to the high number of people in Washington who are getting expensive lifetime disability payments, the state’s fund paying out those benefits is overstressed. “I still have to set rates for 2011, and the picture doesn’t look much better,” she said.