Legislature fails to pass critical workers’ comp bill in final hours, appeals bond sees final passage

In the final hours of the 2017 legislative session, the General Assembly passed a bill relating to the state’s legal system supported by the Kentucky Chamber, but failed to pass a critical workers’ compensation system fix and essential skills education legislation.

House Bill 296, legislation to improve the efficiency of the workers’ comp system in Kentucky, was strongly supported by the Chamber and passed the state House in February. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Adam Koenig, had awaited a hearing in the Senate until the last day of the session after good faith efforts by the Chamber and other groups including Kentucky Association of Manufacturers, Kentucky Retail Federation, Kentucky League of Cities and others, to compromise on desired changes to the bill by the Senate. However, the Senate failed to call the bill in committee, which was on the agenda Thursday morning but was pulled right before the meeting, and died on the last night.

Another measure important to employers, legislation dealing with essential skills education, was also left on the table in the final days as it did not receive a vote in the Senate.

House Bill 454, sponsored by House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell, would have ensured a local school district provide essential skills education to students and require it for graduation. On Wednesday, the Senate took that legislation and many others passed by the House and put them into an existing resolution, HCR 105, originally dealing with adoption and turned them into studies that would have occurred over the interim. The Senate passed the resolution, but the original sponsor, Rep. David Meade, withdrew the resolution once it came back over to the House for concurrence.

One bill that did pass on the final night was House Bill 72 dealing with appeals bonds.

Under House Bill 72, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Miller, a circuit judge would conduct a hearing and issue a determination on whether the case is presumptively frivolous or not. The judge would then set a bond amount, though there is no minimum amount. Legitimate cases would proceed, but those simply working to delay would have to think twice.

The bill went to conference committee after the two legislative bodies disagreed on aspects of the legislation but an agreement was reached on the final night and House Bill 72 was able to see final passage and head to the governor.

The Kentucky Chamber’s annual Results for Business publication will be released in the coming weeks with an overview of your legislator’s voting record, what passed, what didn’t and what it all means to your bottom line.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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