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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Parties Divided On How To Deal With Worker's Comp In Illinois


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner continues to demand legislators lower what businesses have to pay for injured workers.  

House Democrats scheduled a hearing on the subject Monday, and yet Rauner's fellow Republicans wanted nothing to do with it.

When is a company on the hook to compensate an injured worker, and for how much?

Legislation encapsulating Gov. Rauner's preferred plan has sat idle, for a year-and-a-half.

But after he recently asked Democratic leaders to take another look at his bill; the House obliged and scheduled a hearing on it.

Not so fast, say Republicans. They want to work out a compromise behind closed doors.  The committee, they say, is just a sham.

Democrats persisted anyway, and used the chance to criticize Rauner's plan as unfair to workers.

But one, Chicago Rep. Luis Arroyo, evidently didn't get the memo.

"We shouldn’t have this dog and pony show to stand here and talk to everybody all day on something that ain't going to matter,” Arroyo said.

Lawmakers didn't vote, but they did spend hours hearing testimony on workers' compensation.

Illinois lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week to continue the annual veto session.  

One of their top priorities is passage of a budget. Legislative leaders will meet with Governor Bruce Rauner. He's pushing for an agenda he says will improve the state's economy. However, Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, says a budget should come first.  

“What’s going to be in that budget?" he asks. "Are you going to continue to devastate higher education, for example?”

Part of that agenda includes a hearing on a bill that would adjust worker's compensation. Democrats oppose the measure, but Brown says it's a chance to provide feedback.  

“We’ve been talking about workers’ comp for some time now as if that's the key to the Garden of Eden, he says. "We know really it is as much about trying to take benefits away from working families, middle class families. We'd like to try to minimize that, focus attention on the insurance companies.”

But Minority Leader Jim Durkin calls the hearing premature.  He believes the governor and top lawmakers should first agree to a compromise.

Other measures up for consideration include automatic voter registration, and an electric rate hike to subsidize two Exelon nuclear power plants.

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