Updated at 5:40 p.m. to include comments from the bill's sponsor, Sen. Scott Rupp (R, Wentzville).
Missouri senators have passed legislation replenishing an insolvent fund for injured workers and limiting lawsuits for job-related diseases.
The 32-2 vote on Thursday sent the measure to the House.
The bill would eliminate a $25 million deficit in the Second Injury Fund by temporarily doubling the fee Missouri employers could be charged and limiting the types of injuries the fund covers. The sponsor, Republican Scott Rupp of Wentzville, gives examples of what would, and would not, be covered.
“If I was born without an arm and I chop my other arm off at a working shop, then that would give you access, because you are totally disabled – you can’t work, you don’t have any arms," Rupp said. "But if I chop my toes off working on my propeller on my boat, and then I chop my other toes off and I can’t walk, you can still work.”
The legislation also clarifies that job-related diseases are covered by the workers' compensation system, but carves out an enhanced benefit for people suffering from diseases caused by toxic exposure. Currently, workers with such diseases have been able to sue former employers and win expensive lawsuits.