PA Chamber Applauds Enactment of Workers' Comp Litigation Reforms

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, UNITED STATES


HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 10, 2006 (PRIMEZONE) -- The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry praised the cooperative effort that ensured enactment of the most significant workers' compensation reforms in nearly a decade.

The WC litigation reform bill (H.B. 2738) signed by Gov. Ed Rendell on Thursday is the result of months of negotiations between the PA Chamber and the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. The agreed-to measure benefits both employers and claimants by reducing litigation costs, streamlining the adjudication process, and improving the timeliness and quality of workers' compensation decisions.

Don Liskay, president and CEO of Comp Services, Inc. and chairman of the PA Chamber's WC Work Group, said despite 1996's comprehensive workers' compensation reforms, costs have again been on the rise.

"One of the major cost drivers is the litigation expenses associated with workers' compensation claims, which are higher in Pennsylvania than other states," he said, noting that the new law will help bring Pennsylvania's cost structure more in line with competing states.

Liskay estimates that the key provisions of the law could save employers more than $100 million a year in litigation expenses and additional costs associated with the current process.

"This legislation will not only speed things up, but create an environment that encourages the parties to resolve their disputes in a timely manner," Liskay said.

Floyd Warner, president of the PA Chamber, thanked the state Trial Lawyers Association for working with the Chamber to develop the legislation.

"These reforms are an example of what can be achieved when often opposing groups come together in good faith to iron out their differences in order to develop a workable solution to a problem facing the Commonwealth," Warner said. "Enactment of these reforms this session was a priority for the business community."

Warner stressed, however, that despite the positive outcome on workers' compensation reform, the PA Chamber was disappointed with the governor's vetoes of two other pro-business bills, as well as with the administration's handling of these issues.

In recent weeks, the governor rejected for a second time bipartisan legislation (H.B. 236) that would have ensured that the impact of state government mandates are considered before being imposed on small business; and vetoed legislation (S.B. 157) that would have made the state's Emergency and Municipal Services Tax law more palatable to employers and employees by allowing the $52 annual tax to be taken from paychecks in installments, and allowing employers to remit the tax on a quarterly basis.

"The Pennsylvania Chamber and other business groups never received an invitation to discuss concerns with the regulatory flexibility bill as indicated in the governor's veto message," Warner said. "And not once during discussions on the emergency services tax did the administration indicate it had a problem with Senate Bill 157.

"On behalf of our thousands of statewide members, the Pennsylvania Chamber thanks the governor for signing a measure that will help ensure a competitive workers' compensation system that is fair for both employers and claimants, but we stress again the need for good faith dialogue on all issues of importance to the business community. We encourage the administration to listen to the Commonwealth's job creators, who know best what they need to be competitive."

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with thousands of members statewide. More information is available on the Chamber's website at www.pachamber.org.

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry logo is available at http://media.primezone.com/prs/single/?pkgid=353



        

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