Friday, October 31, 2014

Published:05/24/2012

The 2012 Legislative Session came to a close last week.  While arguably lacking in substance, three-fourths of the 114 bills were passed during the last two weeks of session in a flurry of activity.  In terms of the overall picture, there were 1,126 House Bills filed of which 76 passed.  Only 38 of the 506 Senate Bills passed.  This pales in comparison to years past.

Among the priority bills that crossed the finish line were the state’s operating budget (House Bills 2001-2013), which for the first time in four years was not supplemented with one-time federal stimulus or stabilization dollars;  workers' compensation reform specific to limiting co-employee liability; and expansion of charter schools beyond St. Louis and Kansas City, which currently contain the only unaccredited school districts.

The FY 2013 state budget reflects a 2% increase for nearly 95% of state employees; increased reliance on gaming, lottery and tobacco settlement proceeds to fund veterans and early childhood programs and flat funding for education.  In terms of where K-12 education funding should be, the foundation formula is underfunded over $400 million.

Among the key priorities that failed to pass were reforms to Missouri’s workers' compensation laws relating to occupational disease and the Second Injury Fund; teacher tenure reform; quicker intervention of unaccredited school districts such as the Kansas City School District; tax amnesty programs; Fair Tax; and tax credit reform, which has proved to be quite controversial each year.

LEGISLATION OF INTEREST TO MSIA THAT PASSED INCLUDES:

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION (HB 1540)

This bill specifies that an employee will not be liable for a co-employee’s workplace injury or death for which compensation is recoverable under the workers’ compensation laws, except that an employee will not be released from liability for injury or death if the employee engaged in an affirmative negligent act that purposefully and dangerously caused or increased the risk of injury.  The Division of Workers’ Compensation within the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is allowed to determine the manner in which an application is made for a hearing on a compensation dispute and the manner in which a notice that a claim has been dismissed for failure to prosecute is sent unless the employee is represented by counsel.

The Division is allowed to send specified required notifications regarding workers’ compensation claims in a manner determined by the division including by electronic means, registered or certified mail, or regular mail.

HB 1540 was Truly Agreed To And Finally Passed on May 15, 2012.  It now awaits the Governor's approval.  We urge you to please contact the Governor and ask him to sign HB 1540 into law.

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION (SS for SCS for SB 572)

(1) Specifies that every employer who is subject to the workers’ compensation provisions of Chapter 287, RSMo, must be liable to furnish compensation for the personal injury or death of an employee by occupational disease arising out of and in the course of the employee’s employment, and that an occupational disease is exclusively covered under workers' compensation laws;

(2) Specifies that an employee will not be liable for a co-employee’s workplace injury or death for which compensation is recoverable under the workers’ compensation laws, except that an employee will not be released from liability for injury or death if the employee engaged in an affirmative negligent act that purposefully and dangerously caused or increased the risk of injury;

(3) Specifies that a civil action involving an accidental injury or death filed by an employee or an employee’s dependent against an employer or an employee of the employer cannot proceed until all administrative remedies under Chapter 287 are exhausted. The filing of a notice of the administrative
action with the court will toll any statute of limitation or other time limitation regarding the civil action;

(4) Specifies that when a third person is liable to an employee or a dependent of an employee when there is a finding that an occupational disease was caused by toxic exposure as defined in the bill and the employee or dependents were compensated under Chapter 287, the employer will not be subrogated to the rights of the employee or the dependents against the third person when the employer caused the occupational disease; and 

(5) Increases the death benefit for an employee from $5,000 to$10,000.

As you will recall, SS for SCS for SB 572 was vetoed by the Governor on March 19, 2012 and while the Senate was successful in overriding Governor Nixon’s veto, an attempt was not made in the House as the votes were not there.

Attached is the final Bill Summary and Status Report for the 2012 Legislative Session.  Should you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact the office at (800) 494-6742.


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msia-2012-leg-rept_011 pdf 278.1 KB 05/24/2012 open