Tag Archives: Nebraska legislature

Workers’ Compensation Bills Scheduled for Monday Hearings

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The Nebraska Legislature

In this, the 100th year of workers’ compensation in Nebraska, I write a lot while the Legislature’s in session about how we advocate for workers. Now it’s time for Nebraskans to get involved in the lawmaking process to protect workers’ rights.

Two bills, LB 307 and LB 584, are scheduled for hearings in the Business and Labor Committee at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Mar. 18, in the Nebraska Legislature’s Room 2102. These bills could gut the protections workers get through the workers’ compensation system in Nebraska, including taking the choice of doctor away from workers. The bills would also take many decisions out of the realm of the doctor-patient relationship, local control, and even the state’s control, and hand those decisions to workers’ employers, insurance interests, and private companies that are focused more on making money than ensuring workers’ health and safety. A bill similar to LB 584 promoting evidence-based medicine fortunately did not get out of committee last year.

To educate folks more on some of the bills before the Legislature that affect workers and also see the perspectives the firm has to advocate for workers, please read these blog posts:

Help lawmakers hear your voice by getting involved and being vigilant! Call, email, or write your senator to share your personal story and how these bills affect real people. These links may be useful for contacting senators: Find Your Senator, Senators’ Web Pages, Senator Roster, and Business and Labor Committee. Members of the Business and Labor Committee include Sen. Steve Lathrop (District 12), Chairperson, Sen. Brad Ashford (District 20), Sen. Ernie Chambers (District 11), Sen. Thomas Hansen (District 42), Sen. Burke Harr (District 8), Sen. Amanda McGill (District 26), and Sen. Norman Wallman (District 30).

Because citizens’ involvement and interest in workers’ protections matter. Hearing from workers affects how our senators vote. So don’t take programs like workers’ compensation for granted – stand up, get involved, and be heard!

Firm takes pride in progressive worker-oriented law, Senator who fights to preserve it

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Sen. Steve Lathrop

Sen. Steve Lathrop

Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Conn., is Exhibit 1 for why all states need to compensate first responders for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

A few years ago, the Nebraska legislature passed legislation allowing first responders to receive workers’ compensation benefits for mental disorders arising from their work even if they received no physical injury. The bill arose out of the horrible shooting at the Westroads Shopping Mall in Omaha. Recently the insurance industry has been asking to repeal the bill and the original sponsor, Sen. Steve Lathrop of Omaha, has resisted successfully.

 

Now we learn that the first responders who worked in the horror scene at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., can’t receive workers’ compensation benefits for mental issues that might arise. http://www.newstimes.com/local/article/Officials-hope-to-change-workers-compensation-law-4180221.php I assume the Connecticut legislature will respond, protect first responders in the future and hope there is no repetition of the horrific shootings.

 

Rehm, Bennett & Moore is proud that Nebraska law protects such workers. We are proud to have state senators like Steve Lathrop. Does the insurance industry care about anything other than dollars?

Pay Attention! After All, We Elected These People

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One new piece of proposed legislation would create a wind farm that would generate electricity to power 60,000 homes.

Happy New Year! Here in Nebraska, we’re not only welcoming new laws but we’re also about to welcome back the legislative branch of the state’s government to do its business.

This Wednesday, Jan. 9, is Day 1 on the Nebraska legislature’s calendar. And that begins the countdown to the end of the Unicameral’s 103rd Legislative session. In 2013, it’s a 90-day session, which is scheduled to end in June of this year.

A lot of conversation, debate, and discussion should happen between the state’s citizen-lawmakers, the state’s citizens, and other interested parties in the days between now and the end of the countdown.

Nebraska is a bit different in how its lawmaking body works: there is only one house, the Unicameral, which is also officially nonpartisan. But just like pretty much every legislature in each state, a lot of bills are introduced, debated and passed, and those bills affect every citizen and worker. And many of those bills will be full of details and nuance and maybe even big-picture ideas with details to be worked out later (and that’s where the devil may be, editorializing a bit!).

So as you’re following the legislative body in your state, I challenge you to pay attention to the news just a little bit more. Think about how proposed legislation affects your friends, neighbors, and yourself. Our office pays close attention to bills affecting workers’ compensation, personal injury and employment issues. We ask our clients and other interested parties to do the same. And our attorneys often testify on behalf of workers’ issues in hearings in both the Judiciary and Business and Labor committees.

Though none of these bills have been introduced yet, here’s a smattering of some of the ideas that have been shared with the Lincoln Journal Star (but just because they talk about it to the media doesn’t mean that senators will necessarily introduce a bill): “Senator eyes tax exemption for military retirement, Social Security”; “Senator again mulling letting teachers carry guns”; and “Wind energy proponents looking for incentives in Nebraska.”

Without going deep into the merits of the ideas above, I also challenge you to think in general terms about bills that you read about in your state. Does the proposal help or protect workers? Feel free to get involved by learning about the proposed laws, calling your state senator, and discussing the issues at play with others.

Our lawyers are carefully watching proposed legislation that could limit medical care for injured workers. The legislation is being supported by business and insurance interests and could result in rationing of medical care, if not drafted to protect consumers and health-care providers. As more details become available, we will publish to inform, comment and potentially call for action from injured workers.