Legislative Update: House passes workers’ comp reform, transparency measure, and more

On Wednesday, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed multiple bills that are priorities of the business community.

Workers’ Compensation System Modernization

Legislation to improve the efficiency of the workers’ comp system in Kentucky passed the House Wednesday with a 58-40 vote.

House Bill 296 would:

  • Clarify that the limitation on reopening claims already in Kentucky’s law will be applied
  • Set appropriate limits for filing claims on injuries identified years after exposure
  • Ensure the proper standard of car through treatment guidelines
  • Address the state’s opioid addiction problem through formulary guidelines
  • Encourage employers to bring workers back to work quickly
  • Establish appropriate durations of payment of medical claims

A friendly floor amendment was adopted to add a provision increasing the cap on injured workers benefits to up to 110% of weekly wages.

House Bill 296 now heads to the Senate to be heard in committee.

Area Development District Transparency

Legislation to bring more oversight and transparency to the state’s area development districts, entities using state and federal dollars on aging programs and employment services, passed the House on consent Wednesday.

House Bill 189, co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green and Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom of Lexington, seeks to place more accountability on the spending and programming of the state’s 15 area development districts (ADDs) and require additional financial reporting. The bill also brings the ADDs under the same oversight rules that have long governed other state agencies and local governments. Get more details on the bill here.

Judgement Interest Rates

House Bill 223, which lowers the judgement interest rate in the state from 12% to 6% passed out of the House Wednesday evening.  Sponsor Rep. Joe Fischer, who also serves as the House Judiciary Chairman, explained the interest rate had not been updated since 1982.

Kentucky’s judgement interest rate is one of the highest in the nation at 12 percent.  After a jury award of damages, the losing defendant must post a bond guarantee they can pay the award when all appeals are final, plus interest in the amount of 12 percent. Such a high interest rate inflates the cost of already expensive legal battles for individuals, businesses and health care providers.

The Chamber supports House Bill 223 as it would bring Kentucky in line with most other states and increase our competitiveness.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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