NC Advocates for Justice Closer to Consensus Bill on Workers Rights

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Fair and Reasonable Adjustments to Existing Law for Employees and Employers Within Reach

"Again, all we want is a system that is fair for employees at a cost reasonable to employers," said Dick Taylor of NCAJ.

The optimism from last week remains, as fruitful discussion continues between politicians, the NC Chamber of Commerce, and advocates for those injured while working. All sides have been working together to reach a consensus bill that will make adjustments to the present law governing workers' compensation and help injured workers get vocationally rehabilitated and back to work.

House Bill 709, sponsored by Representative Dale Folwell, is presently being debated in the House Select Committee on Tort Reform, which is chaired by Representatives McComas and Rhyne. Negotiations between both sides have proven productive so far this Thursday's Tort Reform Committee meeting has been postponed. Both sides are hopeful that when the Committee reconvenes, a consensus bill will be jointly presented.

Dick Taylor, of NCAJ, said, “Given North Carolina’s consistently high ranking as a state for business, a collaborative effort to address the workers’ compensation system makes the most sense for both sides.”

Since January 2009, companies have committed to creating more than 64,000 jobs and investing more than $13.7 billion in almost 350 projects throughout the state. For the second consecutive year, North Carolina was ranked No. 2 on Chief Executive Magazine’s list of best states for business. North Carolina received five stars for living environment and four stars each for workforce quality and taxation and regulations in the rankings compiled from surveys of 550 CEOs from across the country. The CEOs considered the factors most critical to an environment where business can thrive.

NCAJ supports changes to the existing law that:

  • Incentivize people to return to suitable employment;
  • Protect the most seriously injured workers at a cost reasonable for business; and
  • Retain a balanced and fair approach.

NCAJ, law firms, and politicians have all reported receiving calls from citizens concerned that elements of H.B. 709, if enacted, will impact exiting workers’ compensation claims. Such concern likely explains the number of calls as well as the physical attendance of so many citizens at recent committee meetings.

"Again, all we want is a system that is fair for employees at a cost reasonable to employers," said Taylor.

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Todd Barlow
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