Businesses Support/Fight Wash. Workers’ Comp Initiative

By | October 22, 2010

Supporters of Washington’s workers’ compensation initiative 1082 have raised more than $3.3 million to try to open the state’s workers’ compensation system to the private market and eliminate the Department of Labor and Industries’ monopoly on providing workers’ compensation insurance.

The primary supporters of the measure are the Building Industry Association of Washington and Washington Restaurant Association. They say L&I’s monopoly on the system has kept costs high, and deterred businesses from locating in the state.

On the other hand, opponents — primarily lawyers and union members — have raised $5.4 million to fight the proposal.

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said he’s opposed to the measure because if the measure passes, there would be no guarantee fund for worker’s and employers if insurers charge too much or become insolvent.

Washington has the 26th highest workers’ compensation premium rates in the nation at $2.04 per $100 or payroll, according to a recent report by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services.

According to L&I, if passed, one Initiative 1082 would take effect immediately and would change Washington’s workers’ compensation system for determining premium rates. The current system calculates rates based on hours worked. If the initiative passes, employers would pay premiums based on a rate for every $100 of payroll they pay workers. Total state costs are estimated to be $179 million over five fiscal years, as employers shift to private insurers, according to the state Office for Financial Management. State revenue is expected to increase $61 million to $75 million over five fiscal years.

Topics Workers' Compensation Washington

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