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MONDAY, MAY 23, 2011, 4:36 P.M.

Workers comp bill passes House 69-26

OLYMPIA -- Major changes to the state's workers compensation system passed the House Monday on a 69-26 vote.

Most proposed amendments were ruled out of order by Speaker Frank Chopp, and debate centered around whether injured workers would be helped or hurt by a change that would allow them to take "structured settlements" rather than take part in state retraining programs and go on a pension program.

Rep. Chris Reykdahl, D-Tumwater, said the changes were part of a "relentless pursuit to take on workers". Businesses will be helped at the expense of workers, he said.

Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee, insisted it was a "creative and somewhat experimental" change to the state's century-old system designed to protect injured workers. "If I were an injured worker, I would want this option. If there are problems, I'll be the first to come back and fix them."

Rep. .Tami Green, D-Lakewood, acknowledged the plan was controversial, but should be given a chance to work. "I guess I would ask us to all calm down a lilttle bit," Green said in opening the debate. "If there are problemls, we can come back and fix them."

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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