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Sen. Karin Brownlee and Doug Allen sharply differed Wednesday on merits of proposed changes to the Kansas workers’ compensation law.

Brownlee, R-Olathe, supports a bill sponsored by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce that relieves companies of part of their financial obligation to employees hurt at work. Allen, of Spring Hill, takes a view that compensation for Kansans in job-related accidents — such as himself — should be expanded rather than trimmed.

This split at a public hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee was personal — they are brother and sister.

“Do not allow the interest of businesses and the insurance companies to mislead you to believe that their profits or costs are more important than the health and welfare of the people who entrusted their votes with you,” said Allen, who fell off a railroad car in 2005 and eventually turned to an attorney to secure medical treatment.

Brownlee said in an interview her sibling’s situation wouldn’t dissuade her from backing the bill.

“It’s extremely sad that the trial attorneys didn’t make sure that he got the health care he deserves,” she said.

Under the bill, the definition of “pre-existing” condition would be expanded for determining compensation for injuries and the definition of “work disability” would be narrowed for evaluation of benefits for career-ending injuries.

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