Legislative Update 1, 2017

The 2017-2018 Legislative session is officially underway.

 

Work Comp Reform

 On January 31, 2017 in the House Commerce Committee there was a hearing on HB 2059. HB 2059 would change the workers compensation impairment guidelines from the 6th edition of the American Medical Associations guides back to the 4th edition of the American Medical Association guides. In 2013 Governor Brownback signed into law SB 187. SB 187 modified several sections of the Kansas Workers Compensation Act, and moved the workers compensation impairment guidelines form the 4th edition of the American Medical Association guides (which have been used since 1996) to the 6th edition of the American Medical Association guides. When SB 187 was pushed through the Legislature in 2013, proponents passed it on the terms that it was merely a “scientific update” to the American Medical Associations standards, and that it will benefit workers and businesses alike. Instead what we have seen is that the use of the 6th edition of the American Medical Association guides does not reflect the extent of employees injuries and has had drastic negative affects for Kansas workers.

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Unions could make a comeback — if we help them

By Michael Wasser

You won’t hear opponents admit it, but unions are popular and have been for a while. Last year Gallup found that 58 percent of Americans approved of unions. Since Gallup first asked people about their support for unions in 1936, approval dipped below 50 percent just once — when it dropped to 48 percent at the height of the Great Recession in 2009.

Anti-union advocates prefer to focus on the long-term decline of union membership in the United States, which can suggest that unions are unnecessary or in an inevitable decline. It is true that union density has shrunk from its peak of 35.4 percent of the workforce in 1945 to 11.1 percent in 2015. But the erosion in union membership is not a natural, pre-ordained outcome — the reality is that intentional policy choices significantly contributed to fewer people becoming union members.

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