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Tag: workers’ compensation


Gov. Jay Inslee wades into legislative fray for the first time

In his first extended comments Wednesday on the 24-day-old legislative session, Gov. Jay Inslee took aim at some of the ideas put forward by the Republican-dominated majority in the state Senate.

“I’m very concerned that the Senate already has gone backwards on two areas,” said the Democratic governor, citing proposed changes to the state’s worker-compensation system that was last overhauled in 2011 and the voter-approved green-power law Inslee helped champion in 2006. He later added another Senate Republican measure to his list of those going in the wrong direction, this one requiring notification of parents of teenagers obtaining abortions.

Inslee stopped short

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Gregoire, legislative leaders reach deal on worker’s comp

Even in a year of unusual bipartisanship at the Legislative Building, this stood out: Republicans and Democrats standing together to announce a deal on one of Olympia’s thorniest issues, worker compensation.

A path emerged today for lawmakers to wrap up their work without delaying their overdue exit any further, with an agreement between the Legislature’s four top leaders and Gov. Chris Gregoire to reduce the costs of the state-run insurance system for injured workers by $1.1 billion by 2015.

Lawmakers are putting the plan on a fast track to approval as early as Monday, giving the business lobby a version of what it has been demanding: an option for workers hurt on the job to take payments to settle their injury claims. Gregoire said the settlements, combined with other changes in the deal, would avoid double-digit increases this year in the premiums businesses pay into the system.

The compromise was denounced by organized labor, but backed by House Democrats, who had blocked the settlements when they were conceived as single lump-sum payouts to workers. Instead, the same money will be parceled out over months or years. Speaker Frank Chopp said House Democrats “held firm for injured workers.”

“I feel this is a fair deal for injured workers and everybody concerned,” Chopp told reporters.

Still, the deal represents a victory for the Senate’s pro-business coalition of Republicans and some Democrats who have banded together to force negotiations on a bipartisan budget plan and key issues like workers’ compensation. Read more »