Reform of Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws, which has provoked major fights and hard feelings in the legislature in recent years, gains tentative approval from the State Senate with little fuss. Workers’ comp has been a highly partisan, deeply divisive issue with Republicans wanting more business-friendly standards and Democrats defending employee rights. But the Republicans now have a dominating majority, the main antagonists from past battles are gone, and leaders of both parties have spent more than 30 hours in negotiations. The key to getting something done has been agreeing on a definition of “accident.” The bill was handled on the floor by Senator Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau. Crowell says courts and state commissions have been defining “injury” for years. He says this bill wipes out the most onerous rulings, and sets definitioins, leaving courts and commissions to determine if a particular case fits the definition. Democrats think the new system tilts more toward business. Republicans say the reforms will make Missouri a more business-friendly state. Senators could send the bill to the House next week.
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