Ore. Lawmakers Weigh Workers’ Comp Issues in Waning Days of 2001 Session

June 25, 2001

The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) noted that as the 2001 Oregon legislative session rapidly approaches its conclusion, workers’ compensation issues continue to dominate the discussions.

SB 485, a workers’ comp reform bill, was amended by the House Rules Committee this week and is expected to pass the House with ease.

Michael Harrold, Northwest regional manager for the NAII stated that the amendments were the by-product of discussions among the Management/Labor Advisory Committee (MLAC), Associated Oregon Industries (AOI), the unions, and the Governor’s summit group.

The main addition is language that directs MLAC to advise the next legislature on a comprehensive remedy in light of the Smothers decision that held unconstitutional Oregon’s exclusive remedy statutes. The other notable addition is language requiring the exhaustion of administrative remedies before being able to file suit in circuit court, Harrold said.

Other sectors of the business community had planned to present a much more scaled-back version of SB 485. But that effort was dramatically derailed this week when Senate President Derfler called some major trade associations into his office and gave them an old-fashioned dose of political hardball, Harrold said.

Also on the agenda is HB 3980, the State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF) accountability measure, which passed the Senate this week by a 28 to 1 vote. The bill requires the Oregon Secretary of State to conduct an annual audit of SAIF using a team of qualified and independent actuaries.

The Governor has indicated he will sign the bill.

HB 2112, which adopts the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA), has passed both houses and will be sent to the Governor.

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