Does the Business Community Have a Stranglehold on the Legislature?

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I am a resident of Wilton, CT and I recently wrote to my state legislator John Hetherington asking that he support SB 847 presently pending before the legislature. The bill is designed to provide workers’ compensation commissioners with discretionary authority to award more than the minimum specified benefits for permanent partial disability to a part of the body injured in a compensable workers’ compensation claim. So many workers are injured and not only lose function in one or more parts of their bodies, but also many are thereafter precluded from earning a living as previously. The legislation in question is calculated to put some compassion and mercy in a cold and cruel system of compensation where often employees are injured through the negligence of the employer. Ironically, the only justification advanced for not passing the legislation is that it might cost some extra money, but there is no independent empirical evidence that demonstrates that the cost will be significant. The following is the party line, business community, CBIA propaganda being spewed back at me.

Dear Mr. Casper:

Thank you for your message. I appreciate hearing from you on labor issues which I note is an area of interest to you.

Honestly, I have to say that I am concerned about the additional costs that are likely to result from SB 847 at a time when our state is not viewed as very friendly to business. But I will pay attention to its debate.

Sincerely,

John Hetherington

Dear Mr. Casper:

Thank you for your message. I appreciate hearing from you on labor issues which I note is an area of interest to you.

Honestly, I have to say that I am concerned about the additional costs that are likely to result from SB 847 at a time when our state is not viewed as very friendly to business. But I will pay attention to its debate.

Sincerely,

John Hetherington

My response follows:

John: When the 1993 measures were adopted, the cost savings attributable to discretionary benefits was extremely marginal. Now, without any additional data to work from because of the 1993 legislation, the cost projection for giving commissioners more discretion somehow mysteriously increases. I would think you would want to call these prognosticators on the carpet for altering their figures to suit their political agenda. Further, if the legislature does not have enough faith in their appointed compensation commissioners to fairly and equitably exercise their discretion and to do justice, shouldn’t we seriously consider scrapping the entire workers’ compensation system in favor of a pure tort system? The fairest system probably is one in which a person is compensated only where he or she is not more at fault than the employer or some third party.

By Stewart Casper. Posted June 6, 2007

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