Workers Comp Sails Through Senate

A top priority of Gov. Bill Haslam is a rewrite of the workers comp laws. Image courtesy Iowa Workers Comp

A top priority of Gov. Bill Haslam is a rewrite of the workers comp laws. Image courtesy Iowa Workers Comp

All that stands in the way of an overhaul of the Tennessee workers compensation system are a few votes in the state House. The Senate passed one of the governor’s biggest priorities of the year Monday night.

People who get hurt on the job would no longer get the benefit of the doubt under the proposed law. It would also create an entirely new state agency to mediate disputes over workers comp claims, instead of requiring both sides to go to court.

The only two people to vote no are lawyers. Republican Doug Overbey argues the courts are doing a fine job and there’s no need for more bureaucracy.

“The part of the legislation that I’m troubled by though is the part where we are creating new positions in state government,” Overbey said.

The governor would appoint a workers comp administrator as well as an ombudsman, among other staff positions.

Democrats made no substantive criticisms, even though labor groups have opposed the changes, saying they “gut” current laws protecting workers.

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