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Bipartisan worker’s compensation reform bill dies in committee

By Beth Clayton

Senators Rusty Glover (R-Mobile) and Slade Blackwell (R-Mountain Brook) voted against legislation that would have improved Alabama’s worker’s compensation laws in committee meeting this morning.

The bill, SB453, was sponsored by Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston), the powerful President Pro Tempore in the Senate.  SB453 would have brought Alabama’s worker’s compensation rating up from 50th to 45th in the nation.

“It’s a shame that Alabama will, unfortunately, remain at the bottom of the nation in regards to taking care of our workers injured on the job,” said Al Henley, president of the Alabama AFL-CIO.

Marsh had a tense exchange with Sen. Blackwell at the conclusion of Wednesday’s public hearing.  By not moving the bill out of committee today, SB 453 appears to be dead for the 2013 regular session.

Sen. Marsh had worked hard to gain bi-partisan support for SB 453 and promised not to bring the bill to the floor until all parties, including hospitals, doctors, labor and business, were satisfied.

Henley commented, “This is another example of high-dollar industry lobbyists killing legislation that is good and beneficial for the working people of Alabama.”

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Sens. Glover and Blackwell’s nay votes in the committee effectively prevent the bill, or any similar legislation affecting Worker’s Compensation, from being passed this year.

The bill is 90 pages long, which would require time to understand, Blackwell said. “I wasn’t trying to kill the bill. I was just voting no because I don’t know what it is…I like the concept, but I’ve only seen the bill for three days.”

Senator Shadrack McGill (R-Scottsboro) abstained from voting in committee.  Sen. Priscilla Dunn (D-Bessemer) and Sen. Del Marsh (R-Anniston) voted in favor of moving the bill out of the Business and Labor committee.

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