1999 Oregon Legislative Session
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)
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.
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
- 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.
Mannix's HB 3055
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.