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Dems Call Workers' Comp Vote An 'Olive Branch'

Brian Mackey
Mark Denzler, left, and Jay Shattuck testified on behalf of business groups opposed to the House Democrats' worker's compensation legislation.

The Illinois House met in Springfield Thursday for an unusual June session. Democrats took a series of votes on changes to the workers’ compensation system.

Illinois just enacted a big, bipartisan overhaul of workers’ comp a few years ago. But Gov. Bruce Rauner says costs are still too high, and that more changes are needed.

Democrats, like Rep. Jay Hoffman from Swansea, say their latest proposal gets at one of the governor’s key issues: how it’s determined whether a specific employer caused an injury that might have been building for years.

“We believe that this, for the first time, is us trying to extend an olive branch to the governor’s office, saying we are going to address the issue of causation," Hoffman said.

But Rauner, speaking a day earlier, already dismissed the proposal as “not real reform."

“It’s more of the same. More of a phony reform. More insignificant reform," Rauner said. "And we’ve seen this movie before."

The measure passed on a vote of 63-39.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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