The House has passed out two workers’ compensation bills – HB 1280 and HB 1318. HB 1280 would have drastically expanded the cancer presumption for firefighters and rescue workers and created a new presumption for infectious diseases. MACo opposed the bill and was successful in having amendments added that removed the infectious diseases, limited the additional cancers to esophageal and brain (the House also added lung cancer), and made all of the public safety presumptions rebuttable.
HB 1318 alters how death benefits for dependents are calculated. The bill eliminates the distinction between “wholly” and “partial ” dependents; sets a 12-year cap on benefits, subject to certain exceptions; and alters whom the Workers’ Compensation Commission may consider as a dependent. MACo was the sole opponent of the bill based on concerns about how the revised death benefits interacted with death benefits under the public safety presumptions. The House Economic Matters Committee amended the bill to address MACo’s concerns but the amendments were rejected on the House floor after a short and confusing debate. The “clean” bill passed out of the House.
Both bills will now be considered by the Senate Finance Committee.