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Committee OKs Calif. disability benefits bill


SACRAMENTO, Calif.--A California Senate committee has passed a measure that would double workers compensation permanent disability benefits over the next three years.

Following the Senate Labor and Industrial Relation committee's 3-2 vote adopting S.B. 936 on Wednesday, the bill now goes to the full Senate. The committee vote split along party lines, with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposing.

Numerous employer organizations, including the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Coalition on Workers' Compensation, are fighting the bill sponsored by Sen. Don Perata, D-East Bay.

In a letter sent to Sen. Perata earlier this month, employers said, even though permanent disability benefits have declined because of reform measures adopted in California, "there is no statistically valid and objective evidence that this situation warrants an increase in benefits."

Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar proposal by Sen. Perata, who reintroduced it this year.

"We already have enough data showing that permanently disabled workers are not getting their fair share of workers compensation benefits," Sen. Perata said in January.