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Local News

Illinois House OKs changes for workers’ compensation

SPRINGFIELD – Republican lawmakers Thursday criticized a series of Democrat-endorsed changes to a state law requiring employers to pay medical costs for injured workers, saying the move doesn’t benefit businesses.

“All they’re doing is putting into law the current decisions of courts in Illinois with respect to workers’ [compensation]. It’s nothing that moves the dial,” said Rep. Margo McDermed, R-Mokena.

But House Democrats said the bill – approved by a 63-39 vote without help from Republicans – is an attempt at compromise with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has long pushed for changes to the state law that requires employers to pay medical costs for injured workers.

McDermed argued the changes are “window dressing.”

“One of the main issues is the question of whether the injury actually was caused by the employer. This does not to address that. [Our policy] is regularly abused,” McDermed. “We have to accept what the businesses are telling us. … The other side of the aisle is in denial.”

One of the amendments added to the legislation addresses how compensation is paid if an injury is repetitive. Another would allow insurers to sue a previous employer for some of the costs incurred with injuries.

Another item makes it difficult for a company’s employees to obtain compensation if they injure themselves while traveling.

Other area Illinois House representatives did not immediately return phone calls Thursday afternoon seeking comment on the changes.

Among area representatives, Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City; Elgie R. Sims Jr., D-Chicago; Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields; Kate Cloonen, D-Kankakee; Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights; Stephanie Kifowit, D-Oswego; Emily McAsey, D-Romeoville; Larry Walsh Jr., D-Joliet; and Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, voted yes.

Voting no were McDermed; Ron Sandack, R-Downers Grove; Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs; and Mark Batinick, R-Oswego.

John Anthony, R-Plainfield, voted present.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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