Smith statement on House passage of workers’ compensation reform bill

Rep. Norma Smith, R-Clinton and lead Republican on economic development issues in the Washington State House of Representatives, issued the following statement on today’s passage of workers’ compensation reform in the House of Representatives:

“Passing a bipartisan workers’ compensation bill today, House Bill 2123, is a good start to addressing not only our faltering workers’ compensation system, but improving our business climate while also protecting injured workers. An important key to get Washington working again and getting our economy on the road to recovery is improving our state’s competitiveness by addressing the unsustainable rising costs on employers trying to keep their doors open, retain and create jobs.

“Our state’s workers’ compensation system is a nationally recognized disadvantage for employers and to businesses looking to relocate into Washington. We have one of the highest workers’ compensation pension rates in the country and our system is facing insolvency in the near future if we do not get this bill through the Legislature and to the governor’s desk. Total workers’ compensation benefits paid in Washington increased 70 percent from 1998 to 2008, compared to 34 percent growth for all other states over the same time period.

“However, it is important to note, the settlement agreements in this bill are an option that no other state has implemented under this type of structure. While I believe this reform is a step in the right direction, I had hoped for some stronger reforms. However, this gives us something to work from in the future.”

The measure is projected to save the state workers’ compensation system $1.1 billion over four years while offering workers another option.  Medical benefits continue, and all settlements are reviewed ‘in the best interest of the worker.’

House Bill 2123 passed by a vote of 69-26.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov