Employers will be facing significantly less financial and legal liability as a result of Senate Bill 1, which Gov. Nixon signed into law today. At the same time, hundreds of injured workers will now receive the benefits they are due.
“This was critical legislation, not just from a financial standpoint but also from a standpoint of system integrity,” said Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “It shouldn’t have taken as long as it did to make these changes, but the Trial Bar fought us every step of the way. Working through the General Assembly, employers have taken these issues out of the hands of activist courts and the Trial Bar, and we are taking responsible measures to fix them.”
SB 1 contains provisions to address the Second Injury Fund and provide benefits for employers.
·Most important, SB 1 limits the types of claims that can be run through the Second Injury Fund. The fund had been greatly expanded over the last decade to cover claims that should not have been part of the fund, the main reason the fund became insolvent in the first place. The bill removes all permanent partial disability from SIF, which is 80 percent of all SIF claims
·The bill provides a long-term plan to pay off the $1 billion in liability that currently exists within the system. Currently the Second Injury Fund is $32 million in the red, with more than 1,200 people with outstanding claims. However, more than 30,000 claims are pending adjudication, saddling Missouri employers with great financial liability.
·SB 1reduces the interest rate from 9 percent to 5 percent that employers are currently paying on outstanding claims. This will save employers millions of dollars annually.
Years of impasse on this issue has resulted in claimants taking their case to court in order to secure benefits they have been awarded under the law.
In addition, the compromise brings all occupational diseases back under the workers’ compensation system.
·Nine toxic exposure conditions will be eligible for enhanced remedy of up to $150,000 and guaranteed death benefits.
·The toxic exposure condition of mesothelioma will be eligible for $500,000 in enhanced remedy.
·An employer can opt to have coverage for toxic exposure under work comp policy, to pay for remedy out of a pool to be administered by the Department of Labor, or address any mesothelioma cases in circuit court.
“The Missouri Chamber applauds House and Senate leadership for their work on the issue. Sen. Scott Rupp and Rep. Todd Richardson were strong legislative leaders who worked tirelessly to advance the bill,” said Mehan. “The Missouri Chamber is grateful for the governor’s signature that will allow positive steps toward bringing solvency back to the Second Injury Fund and helping workers get the benefits due them.”
The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.mochamber.com) was founded in 1923 and is the largest business association in Missouri, representing almost 3,000 employers providing more than 425,000 jobs for Missourians.
Innovation Campuses throughout Missouri connect students with careers in high-demand fields through local partnerships; cut the time it takes to earn a degree
Gov. Jay Nixon today visited the University of Central Missouri, home to the UCM Innovation Campus, to sign legislation supporting Missouri’s Innovation Campus initiative. Gov. Nixon launched the Innovation Campus initiative in 2012 to train students for careers in high-demand fields, cut the time it takes to earn a college degree, and reduce student debt.
“The Innovation Campus initiative is connecting Missouri businesses with local institutes of higher education to make sure that students today are preparing for the jobs of tomorrow,” Gov. Nixon said. “The strength of our economy and the future of our state are directly tied to ensuring that higher education remains affordable and provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in the global marketplace. I anticipate the Innovation Campus initiative could become a model for the rest of the nation.”
Last fall, Gov. Nixon announced $9 million in Innovation Campus grants to establish partnerships between local high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and area businesses.
Senate Bill 381, signed into law today by Gov. Nixon, officially defines in state statute an Innovation Campus as an educational partnership comprised of one or more Missouri public community colleges or Linn State Technical College; one or more Missouri public or private four-year institutions of higher education; one or more Missouri high schools or K-12 education districts; and at least one Missouri-based business.
Innovation Campuses offer students accelerated degree programs specifically designed to prepare them for careers in science, technology and other high demand fields, and to reduce the time and cost needed to earn their degrees.
Employees recommended by area businesses also participate in the program, obtaining scholarships to begin or complete a baccalaureate degree, while receiving on-site training and mentoring beyond what would otherwise occur within the company. Participants receive college credit for these applied learning experiences, and the corporate partners benefit from a pool of highly trained candidates for positions once they have completed their degrees and the apprenticeship training.
Senate Bill 381also recognizes the University of Central Missouri as having officially met the Innovation Campus criteria by working to lower the cost and time required for students to complete a degree and by connecting students with local businesses to establish a path to a career in a high-demand field. The Missouri Innovation Campus at UCM connects students with apprenticeships and training opportunities at businesses like Cerner, DST Systems and Burns & McDonnell.
“The University of Central Missouri is proud to help shape the future of higher education in the Show-Me State through the Innovation Campus initiative,”UCM President Charles Ambrose said. “Our faculty, staff, local business partners and students have worked together to establish a model for innovation and achievement in higher learning. We will continue to help strengthen Missouri’s economy through the Innovation Campus, and we appreciate Gov. Nixon’s strong support.”
The Governor also signed several pieces of legislation relating to education, including:
Senate Bill 17, an omnibus education bill, which modifies several areas of law relating to education, including generating savings for the Public School Retirement System of Missouri by allowing teachers and school employees to retire with less than 30 years of service.
House Bill 152, which allows school districts to commission school officers to enforce laws at school activities if the school district has a memorandum of understanding with each municipal law enforcement agency and county sheriff’s office with jurisdiction over the school’s premises.
House Bill 673, which changes the name of Linn State Technical College to the State Technical College of Missouri.