* Doug Finke…
When the leaders last met, Rauner also distributed copies of a bill filed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs to overhaul workers’ compensation to reduce costs.
The bill was initially filed in 2015, but the House has not acted on it. Until now. A House committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Monday, a day before the full legislature returns to the Capitol.
However, in a letter to House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and the other leaders, Durkin said he objected to the timing of the hearing.
“At the conclusion of (our last) meeting, we agreed to return with feedback on the various reform proposals discussed during the meeting,” he wrote. “Our workers’ compensation reform proposal is a starting point for discussion, not an ultimatum. I believe it is premature to hold a hearing on the matter; our goal should be to use the legislation as a starting point for discussion at our leaders’ meeting (Monday).”
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown disagreed.
“They talked about getting feedback on workers’ comp,” he said. “One of the ways you get feedback is having a committee hearing.”
The hearing on that bill is set to start today at 3 o’clock, the same time as the leaders meeting.
* Tribune editorial…
We’ve all seen the stories: Employee claims a shoulder-related job injury. Employee qualifies for workers’ compensation. Employee posts photo on social media of himself hoisting a 150-pound yellow fin tuna while deep sea fishing. Employee busted.
How does this keep happening?
Cracking down on abuse within the state’s workers’ compensation system, which would lower insurance costs for employers, is part of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s so-called turnaround agenda. But he isn’t alone: Legislators on both sides of the aisle agree changes are needed.
That’s a clear case of fraud…
Anyone found guilty of any of these actions is guilty of a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1-3 years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.
The guilty party shall be required to pay complete restitution, and may be found civilly liable for up to three times the value of benefits or insurance coverage that was wrongfully attained.
The Democrats and the unions have said they’re open to weeding out more fraud. That’s not what’s holding things up.
* Back to the editorial…
Yet Madigan keeps reinforcing his battle line: He won’t mix budget negotiations with policy negotiations, even though certain policy changes — workers’ comp included — would improve the state’s economic health. Madigan says the issues are unrelated. Never mind Madigan’s long history of mixing budget negotiations with policy negotiations.
His argument is silly. Improving Illinois’ business climate is intrinsically related to funding the state budget.
Madigan does, indeed, have a long history of mixing budget talks with other stuff. And I agree that our business climate is pretty darned harsh. As long as Madigan is just saying “No” to everything, he puts himself into the position of defending an age-old status quo. He refers constantly to the 2011 reforms (which were good), but won’t talk about the results of the 2005 reforms (not so good).
I’ve long advocated for a reasonable compromise which would roll back part of the 2005 reform bill while creating a credible commission to study alleged insurance company recalcitrance at passing along reform-generated savings to employers.
Nobody listens because they prefer their war.