Legislative Column for the Week of Dec. 7, 2015

Missouri Senate Looks to Address Workers’ Compensation Law in 2016 in Response to Supreme Court Ruling

Legislative News

My top priority as a state lawmaker and public servant has always been, and will always be, growing a stronger, more resilient economy for the people of Missouri. This is why in each and every legislative session, I have focused on creating and supporting measures that attract and retain top employers across all industries.

This last session, my colleagues and I passed some great economic initiatives — from tax exemptions that will attract data storage centers to the Show-Me State to a tort reform measure that will help keep talented doctors within our borders and our hospital doors open — we took meaningful steps toward growing a greater Missouri economy. Unfortunately, as often happens in life and even more so in government, we took a big step back this week.

On Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled in Greer v. Sysco that employees who have been injured on the job can now be eligible to receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits even after they’ve been deemed to have reached maximum medical improvement. Current state law dictates that an employer’s obligation to pay TTD benefits shall not extend beyond 400 weeks. The court’s Tuesday ruling, however, sets a precedent that makes Missouri employers much more vulnerable to workers’ compensation liability claims even after cases have long been settled. Temporary benefits were never meant to be long-term. This decision could work unfairly against our local businesses who have followed the law, and it could be very costly in the end.

The General Assembly must come together during the upcoming 2016 session and pass legislation that will bring much-needed clarification to the law, ensuring Missouri employers continue to receive equal protection and temporary disability benefits remain temporary. For my part, as president pro tem, I am dedicated to working with my colleagues to get an effective and appropriate solution to this issue past the finish line.