Workers comp bill approved

Compromise requires more to get insurance, but less than with '08 law

NASHVILLE - After hostile amendments were defeated, the House joined the Senate on Thursday in approving a bill that will require more people to obtain workers' compensation insurance - but not as many as with a 2008 law that provoked a minor uproar in the construction industry.

The Legislature wound up suspending the 2008 law in 2009 and lengthy negotiations then ensued on how to replace it. The bill approved in the waning days of the 2010 session is the compromise answer.

The bill still will allow some exemptions for sole proprietors, partnerships or family businesses. But those seeking an exemption must get a certificate and show they meet the criteria. There are other restrictions, including no more than three members of a family working as a business can obtain exemptions.

Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect, proposed an amendment to basically gut the bill and return the law back to the status that existed prior to the 2008 law.

Rep. Joe McCord, R-Maryville, proposed an amendment that would increase the number of family members eligible for an exemption to eight. McCord noted that his amendment would impact him personally since he and three brothers have a working partnership - meaning they would have to buy workers compensation insurance because of having one too many members.

The entire bill, McCord contended, "is destroying family businesses."

Both amendments were killed at the urging of the bill's sponsor, Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta. The closest vote was 62-27.

"This (bill) is a giant step forward," said Curtiss in arguing against Bass' amendment. "This amendment would be a giant step backwards."

And in arguing against McCord's amendment, Curtiss said, "If we go down this slippery slope, we're going to unravel what we are trying to do."

After the amendments were defeated, the overall bill was approved 87-7. The Senate vote was 31-0. The measure now goes to the governor, who is expected to sign it into law.

Tom Humphrey, News Sentinel Nashville bureau chief, may be reached at 615-242-7782.

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Comments » 2

concern4knox writes:

They went into session early just over this issue and they are just now resolving it (poorly). No wonder the state is in such terrible shape. Thanks guys, we citizens know that you are there for us

oldoldtimer writes:

You get out of Nashville what you send to Nashville. I would suggest better screening of candidates and not fall for the one supported by the political machine. Some times that little guy with the small bubget is better.

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