Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; March 26, 2013:
House democrats join with workers to oppose radical changes to workers’ compensation insurance
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Democrats joined with workers from across the state at a rally to oppose the Governor’s proposed changes to the workers’ compensation system in Tennessee.
“Working people in this state are getting rolled over like a freight train by the wealthy special interests who want to use the Republican super-majority to pick the pockets of workers in our state,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. “This so-called ‘reform’ of the workers’ compensation system does nothing to address the medical costs that are driving up rates, and does everything to balance the books on the backs of injured workers.”
The Governors’ workers’ compensation changes would reduce payments to injured workers and place the appeals process out of the hands of the local judiciary and give it to a new state bureaucracy. The end-result of the proposals will be to make it easier for employers to fire injured workers, resulting in bankruptcy for people who were injured on the job by no fault of their own.
“I voted for workers comp reform a few years back because I thought it was needed for workers and businesses in this state,” said House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh. “But like so many things this year, we are rushing through this bill, we aren’t seriously addressing the actual problems in the workers’ compensation system, and we are creating a new level of bureaucracy in this state. For all those reasons, I will oppose this legislation and I hope my colleagues will too.”
Hundreds of concerned citizens and workers from across the state have called and written to the Governor asking him to reconsider these proposed changes to the workers comp system in Tennessee. Workers advocates are deeply concerned with provisions in the bill that would cut benefits to all injured workers, create a new bureaucracy controlled by the Governor, and will jeopardize workplace safety in the future.
“This is perhaps the worst piece of legislation that I have seen since I’ve been up here in terms of what it does to hurt working families in Tennessee,” said Chairman Turner. “I hope the Governor will listen to the voices of Tennesseans who came out today to oppose this so-called ‘reform’ package, and works to find a way to address the real problems in the state’s workers’ compensation system that does not endanger the livelihood of injured workers.”
HB194 by Leader McCormick (R-Chattanooga) is scheduled to be heard in the Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee on Wednesday, March 27th.