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1999 Oregon Legislative Session

  • SB 460 continued Exclusive Remedy even though many state officials believe it to be in violation of the Oregon Constitution. The Oregon Supreme Court will have the final say soon. Expect a special Legislative session should the Court rule in favor of Terry Smothers. (Update — found unconstitutional in May 2001)
  • SB 220 gave insurance providers authority to close all injury claims. It shuts down the Oregon WC Evaluations Unit. This misplaced power would have occurred immediately had one proposal been adopted. It may take full effect July 2001. Our Governor could speed up implementation, and therefore break yet another promise made to Oregon workers.
  • SB 1322 would have required insurance providers to accept or deny injury claims within 30 days and set up a program to pay medical expenses during that time. The present 90 days is surpassed in time by only a couple of states. This bill gagged when management members of MLAC took their toys and went home like spoiled rotten children. Unlike past years, MLAC business representatives and their allies could not run over workers due to intense efforts by unions, representatives of doctors, organized injured workers, the attorneys of injured workers, and the able lobbyist for attorneys, Jennifer Webber. (Update — lowered to 60 days in 2001 session)
  • Rep. Kropf sponsored a bill, HB 2830, which would have destroyed what's left of OR-OSHA effectiveness to protect workers from unsafe workplaces. It was greatly watered down. What did pass will have little negative impact.
  • Barbara Ross proposed HB 2769. This bill would've provided injured workers the opportunity to discuss the reconsideration process, compensable conditions, and medical records in person with those conducting the reconsideration proceeding. It never got out of MLAC.
  • SB 1321, the Safe Needle Bill, a common sense safety bill requiring health care facilities to use needles with safety devices to protect employees from accidental needle sticks was disgustingly defeated.
  • Joint Resolution 57 would have appointed a task force to recommend whether SAIF should be returned to being a state agency or be privatized. Privatization would be even worse than the present SAIF. This bill never got out of legislative committee.
  • HB 3285 was defeated. It would have created a Legislative Ombudsman, swallowing our present Ombudsman for Injured Workers which does a fine job. (Update — similar bill never left committee in 2001 session)
  • HB 3055, an attempt by Rep. Mannix to reward non-complying employers, who are lawbreakers, by treating them as upstanding citizens was largely defeated. What did pass in this bill may still hurt Oregon workers whose employers don't have legally required WC insurance.

Governor Kitzhaber can veto bills after passage. He continued his legacy and didn't use this option on workers' compensation related bills this session.

Kevin Mannix's HB 3055

Kitzhaber stated several times that he'd veto any workers' compensation legislation that didn't pass MLAC first. Yet he didn't veto HB 2450, sponsored by Bob Shiprack, and HB 3055, sponsored by Kevin Mannix.

HB 2450 gave members of two union locals an "alternative dispute resolution system," essentially a workers' compensation system that actually does provide for workers. HB 2450 sponsor Bob Shiprack, a member of MLAC, works for the Oregon Building Trades Council who represents one of these union locals. Was this a political payoff or a deal worked out that allowed both bills to avoid a veto and become law?

Shamefully, Governor Kitzhaber stated publicly that together we've created "a workers' compensation system we can all rely on."


You can locate and write to both your state representatives in one step through a form located at http://www.leg.state.or.us/writelegsltr/writeset.htm. For additional contact information, including federal representatives, visit http://www.leg.state.or.us/findlegsltr/findset.htm.


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