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James B. Biggs
James B. Biggs
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Kansas Governor Vetoes Workers Compensation Bill

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Legislation that would change the amount of benefits due to injured workers has been vetoed by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Over the past month benefits for injured workers has become a hot topic in Kansas with businesses and trial lawyer associations fighting on both sides of the battle. This specific measure would have limited an employers’ responsibility for workers’ compensation when an employee’s injury is connected to a pre-existing condition.

In supporting the veto, Sebelius noted that workers’ compensation rates in Kansas are among the lowest in the nation and benefits paid to injured workers in Kansas also rank near the bottom. The Governor also had issue as to whether the bill would adversely effect military personnel who attempt to enter the workforce after being injured while serving their country.

Sen. Karin Brownlee, R-Olathe, who led the bill through the Senate, has spoken out against the veto. Brownlee feels that workers’ compensation premiums aren’t lower for all employers and that the purpose of the bill was to ensure that businesses are paying for old injuries of their workers.

As of now, it does not appear that enough votes would be available to override Sebelius’ decision. The bill passed the Senate with two-thirds support, but was 17 votes shy in the House.