The Missouri House has begun looking at a legislative effort to change the state’s workers’ compensation law. Representative Kevin Wilson of Neosho sponsors a bill aimed at making the alterations, which include restrictions on who qualifies for benefits. He says nobody will stand in the way of people who have been injured on the job, but those receiving benefits must have suffered injuries as a result of their work. Wilson says the current law is too broad and allows people who become ill at work to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. He says benefits must be restricted to those injured at work or Missouri could lose jobs to neighboring states. Among those testifying in favor of the legislation was Patrick Daly, Plant Engineer at Sierra Bullets in Sedalia. He told the panel that since 1991, his company’s workers’ compensation costs have risen over 300 percent, despite the fact that safety is improving. Bruce Anderson, Vice President and General Manager of American Tripoli Incorporated of Senaca, near the Oklahoma border, says his company could expand soon. And, if it does, that expansion would likely take place in neighboring Oklahoma. He told the committee workers’ compensation costs are the key reason the expansion would probably take place in Oklahoma. Dan Mehan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, testified, as well, telling the committee the workers’ compensation issue is one of economic development. He expressed concern over the state’s habit of addressing the departure of businesses after they have left the state, rather than dealing with concerns of those businesses before they depart for what they see as greener pastures.
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