Governor Bill Haslam Tuesday held a ceremonial bill signing at Clarksville Foundry, Inc. for his workers’ compensation reform legislation, HB 194/SB 200, approved by the General Assembly.
Workers’ compensation premium rates for employers in Tennessee are higher than the national average and higher than all of Tennessee’s bordering states, and the state is one of only two that adjudicated workers’ compensation claims in the trial courts, often delaying benefits to employees and producing inconsistent results, officials said.
The governor’s bill simplifies the system while allowing employees to receive benefits faster and return to work sooner, bringing increased predictability to the business environment.
“As I traveled the state during my first two years in office, I heard consistently from Tennesseans that reforming workers’ compensation would be a significant step toward improving our business climate and growing jobs,” Governor Haslam said. “Our legislation brings clarity and fairness to the system and builds on our ongoing efforts to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”
Provides disability benefits to an injured worker quicker;
Improves the quality of medical treatment;
Provides a clearer standard for causation and a neutral application of the law;
Allows employees to file claims in a court within the Division of Workers’ Compensation rather than trial court;
And creates a new ombudsman program in the division to help unrepresented employees and employers receive the assistance they need.
The bill was sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin), House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) and Rep. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland).