Op-Ed: Workers’ Comp Reforms–good for private and public employers

By: Dave Adkisson, President and CEO Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Brian S. Roy, Executive Director/CEO  Kentucky Association of Counties
Kerri Schelling, Executive Director Kentucky School Board Association
Jonathan Steiner Executive Director/CEO Kentucky League of Cities

Private and public-sector employers do not always agree, but when we do come together progress is almost always made for our state.  This was the case during this past session of the General Assembly when legislators from both sides of the aisle along with a broad coalition of employers from the public and private sectors worked to pass reforms to Kentucky’s workers’ compensation system for the first time in over 20 years. Prior to these changes, all employers-both private and public, had been burdened with outdated laws that failed to incorporate efficiencies and improvements that had been implemented in many other states.

The results of our collaborative effort are better protections for all employees, improved care for injured workers, and greatly enhanced investments in vital public services by containing the workers’ comp costs that were projected to rise without these reforms.

In a time when the state and all local governments continue trying to do more with less, it was imperative for the legislature to remedy several unexpected legal rulings from the Kentucky Supreme Court that invalidated many long-standing workers compensation provisions.  Leaving these legal decisions unaddressed would have led to significant cost increases to every city, county, and school district. forcing them to make deeper cuts to public safety and instructional spending.  For example, the common-sense response to clarify the rules governing the distribution of income benefits once a worker reaches a reasonable retirement age will save taxpayers millions in workers compensation costs that will translate to tax savings.

Balanced and reasonable reforms like House Bill 2 will help local governments make ends meet so that they can continue their critical investments in our children, public safety, and infrastructure.  Advancing the quality of education of our children and the quality of life in our communities also supports our statewide goal of creating a more robust economic climate.

We commend the bill sponsor, Rep. Adam Koenig (R-Erlanger), for his tireless persistence in seeing this bill through the legislative process and Senate President Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) for his leadership in passing this bill in the Senate. Thank you to the General Assembly for acting to help every employer in Kentucky, both public and private.

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