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News >  Idaho

Disability Legislation Lacks Support Senators Unwilling To Back Reductions In Payments

Matt Pember Staff writer

Legislation that would have trimmed disability payments to Social Security recipients died on Thursday because no senator was willing to make a motion on it.

“I’ve never seen it happen before,” said Sen. Gordon Crow, R-Hayden.

Lobbyists clustered outside the Senate Commerce Committee’s meeting room joked that the bill had “10-foot-pole marks all over it.”

No one on the committee wanted to touch it.

Committee members seemed dumbstruck after an hour of presentations on Senate Bill 1098. The bill, proposed by the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, would reduce disability payments by an amount equal to half a person’s Social Security benefits. It would affect retirees who were injured on the job after they reached age 60.

“My impression was that people had questions about it,” said Sen. Jack Riggs, R-Coeur d’Alene. “I thought ‘I’m not sure this makes sense.’ If no one feels strongly one way or another, it should be set aside.”

That’s exactly what happened. The committee sat befuddled for over a minute.

As the committee hesitated over the decision whether or not to send the bill to the full Senate, Committee Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, called the bill dead for lack of a motion.

The bill was proposed to stop people who “double-dip” from workers’ compensation and Social Security.

In other committee action, four more workers’ compensation bills were considered. Two were sent to the full Senate for votes and the other two were killed.

The two bills that made it out of the committee, SB1094 and SB1092, called for temporary agencies to pay for workers’ compensation for their employees and would clarify some conflicting language in the workers’ compensation laws.

Of the bills that were killed, SB1091 called for occupational diseases, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and black lung, to be treated the same as workrelated injuries. The bill would force the last employer of a person diagnosed with a work-related disease to pay the compensation. All of the senators agreed that was unfair.

SB1095 would have made employers pay for re-education of injured workers. Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, had doubts about the meaning of “other necessary attendant expenses” and said the language was too unclear.

The committee killed the bill.

, DataTimes

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