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Disabled Missourians speak out against workers' compensation regulation

January 19, 2005
By: Megan Clarke
State Capital Bureau

Diabled Missourians injured on the job speak-out in opposition of workers' compensation regulation. Megan Clarke has the story.

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Kevin Laytham traveled more than four hours to Jefferson City in order to limp to the witness stand to tell his story.

Senate committee members listened while Laytham and other Missourians injured on the job testified.

Laytham is diabled after suffering a back injury while driving a truck without air suspension.

He says it took four years to receive any payment from the failing workers' compensation program.

Unable to work, Laytham and his family of five rely on public assistance.

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I TRIED THE WORK COMP SYSTEM AND IT FAILED. THEY TURNED THEIR BACK ON ME.

The proposed bill would exclude coverage for injuries that are not directly job-related.

Proponents for workers' compensation regulation say the costly program is driving employers out of Missouri. Megan Clarke reports.

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It has become the Senate's top priority.

Senate committee members listened to testimony from injured workers to employers.

Economic Developer Steve Jenkins says his city not only has problems attracting new businesses, but also struggles to retain current employers.

He says part of the problem is out-of-control workers' compensation costs.

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WE HAVE STATES NOW CONTACTING OUR COMPANIES SAYING YOU REALLY NEED TO TAKE A LOOK AT IOWA, ILLINOIS OR NEBRASKA BECAUSE YOU ARE GOING TO PAY LESS IN WORKERS' COMP.

Jenkins says this issue if not regulated will kill business in MIssouri.

The Senate Committee says no action will be taken on the workers' compensation bill this week.

Regulation proponents says workers' compensation costs are out-of-control. Megan Clarke reports.

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The state's Department of Labor says the number of workers' compensation claims have dropped since 2001.

However, as of 2003 the average cost per claim continued to increase.

Economic Developer Steve Jenkins says he can't attract or keep busineses in his community in Southern Missouri.

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This issue will kill you eventually if you do not do something about it. It is an exceptional cost to businesses and it's getting worse.

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The Republican bill would narrow the definition of a work injury.

The Senate Committe says it will not take any action on the bill this week.