FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 22, 2018) – A bill that supporters say is needed to control workers’ compensation losses following a 2017 Kentucky Supreme Court decision cleared the state Senate today on a 23-14 vote.
House Bill 2, as amended, is a response to the 2017 Kentucky Supreme Court ruling in Parker v. Webster County Coal, said Senate President Robert Stivers II, R-Manchester, who presented the bill. That ruling declared unconstitutional the state workers’ compensation system’s practice of terminating workers’ comp income benefits once an injured worker qualifies for normal Social Security retirement benefits.
HB 2 would not impact injured workers currently receiving workers’ comp benefits, Stivers said. In future cases, it would limit benefits to workers with certain injuries to 15 years, with a chance after 15 years to be recertified to continue receiving benefits.
“But truly, I believe it to be a fair system for which workers who are injured will be paid,” Stivers said.
Other provisions would increase the percentage of the average weekly wage that can be paid as income to injured workers and revise medical treatment guidelines and limits on attorney fees, among other things.
Voting against HB 2 was Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, who said there was no compelling need for the proposed law. He said Kentucky’s workers’ compensation fund is fiscally sound.
“We all want jobs,” McGarvey said. “We all want businesses to be here, but we can be for business without being anti-worker. That is what this bill is.”
Stivers said the measure was a result of compromises.
“I’m not going to say that everybody agrees with everything in this,” he said, “but it is something a lot of people have had input in. It started over a year ago.”
HB 2 now goes back to the House for consideration of the Senate change.