Legislation that would revive Missouri's ailing Second Injury Fund and seek to reduce the number of occupational disease lawsuits was passed Thursday by the Missouri House. It had already passed the Missouri Senate during pre-dawn hours on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 1 would temporarily double the surcharge businesses pay into the Second Injury Fund in order to deal with a backlog of more than a thousand cases. It would also place occupational disease claims in Missouri within the workers' compensation system and provides enhanced payments for those suffering from cancer and other diseases caused by toxic exposure. State Representative Todd Richardson (R, Poplar Bluff) handled the bill in the House.
"This is not a perfect piece of legislation, but it's something that it was critically important for the state to get done and take a step forward in this direction," Richardson said. "I don't think anybody is under the delusion that this is the last workers' compensation bill we're gonna have."
House Democrats were split, with about half voting "yes" with the Republicans. Minority Floor Leader Jacob Hummel (D, St. Louis) used his Twitter account to blast the workers' comp portion, saying that it places a price on human life. However, two high-profile Democrats, Attorney General Chris Koster and State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, are praising the bill's passage. It now goes to Governor Jay Nixon (D), who's expected to sign it into law.
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