ELLY GRIMM

• Leader & Times

 

Worker’s compensation can be a tough process to wade through after an on-the-job injury and recently, the state of Kansas took action to help with just that.

Last Wednesday, Gov. Laura Kelly signed Senate Bill 430, legislation that comprehensively updates Kansas’ workers compensation system.

“This legislation is a win for our workforce, our businesses, and organized labor,” Gov. Kelly noted in the State of Kansas release. “The reforms in this legislation will create a more just and efficient workers compensation system that increases the benefits for injured workers while creating administrative efficiencies and maintaining stability for businesses. The legislation increases the maximum benefits for injured workers and adds a cost-of-living adjustment to those benefits beginning in July 2027, and also provides workers compensation coverage for members of the Kansas National Guard and significantly reduces the Social Security retirement offset for certain disability benefits.”

Senate Bill 430 also streamlines the workers compensation process by:

• Limiting the use of independent medical exams;

• Requiring the timely exchange of medical records; and

• Creating the ability to settle workers compensation cases without the need for a settlement hearing.

Other leaders also praised the bill.

“When it comes to crafting good policy when both sides of the issue are so polarized, a lot of collaboration is needed. Thankfully, experienced, level-headed professionals on both sides of this issue were able and willing to work together,” Kansas State Representative Sean Tarwater, District 27, noted in the State of Kansas release. “As Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, my job was to help navigate the legislative process, and their collaboration made it easy.”

“This reform to our workers compensation system is a big win for every worker in Kansas,” Kansas State Representative Jason Probst, District 102, noted in the State of Kansas release. “After years of erosion to basic worker protections, this compromise package signals a shift in how we will treat and assist employees in our state who suffer a tragic workplace injury.”

“SB 430 is the result of Labor, the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, and other business interests working together to improve the Kansas Workers Compensation Act,” Jan Fisher, representative of Kansas AFL-CIO, noted in the State of Kansas release. “This legislation substantially increases the maximum compensation available for all injured workers or their dependents and automatically increases the maximum compensation levels to keep up with the cost of living. The compromise package also includes changes in the administrative system, increasing efficiency and access.”

“Enactment of SB 430 was a priority of Kansas industry as it provides meaningful updates to the Kansas Workers Compensation Act,” Tony Andersen, managing counsel at Travelers Insurance, noted in the State of Kansas release. “The Governor’s approval of SB 430 preserves the legislative framework established by the 2011 amendments while at the same time addressing some of the most pressing issues facing employers in workers compensation matters. SB 430 will return stability to Kansas workers compensation as well as improve the processes and procedures by which benefits are determined.”

“From the Officers of the Kansas AFL-CIO, we want to thank the bipartisan efforts and support from the elected officials in the statehouse, but more importantly, all of the stakeholders who met over the last year to make the workers compensation system work for all working families and businesses across Kansas,”  John Nave, Executive Vice President, Kansas AFL-CIO, noted in the State of Kansas release. “This was a much-needed overhaul, and it shows that when we all sit down at the table and work through the sticking points, great things can be accomplished.”

“This legislation is a significant step forward in achieving a balance between workers' needs and the realities of the business world,” Kansas Labor Secretary Amber Shultz noted in the State of Kansas release. “We are proud to have come together with attorneys representing business and labor organizations to address the concerns of our stakeholders and contribute to a more fair and equitable system.”

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