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Michigan Senate approves workers compensation reform bill

Michigan Senate approves workers compensation reform bill

LANSING, Mich.—The Michigan Senate voted 20-16 Wednesday in favor of H.B. 5002, a bill that would reform the state's workers compensation system.

The legislation includes multiple proposed changes to Michigan's workers comp law. Those include a requirement for claimants to conduct a "good faith" job search while receiving disability benefits, as well as deductions of pension or retirement payments from weekly workers comp benefits.

The Senate version of the workers comp bill, originally introduced by state Rep. Brad Jacobsen, R-Oxford, will be returned to the Michigan House for consideration. If approved, the bill would be sent to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder for approval.

The Michigan Council of Self-Insured Group Administrators lauded the legislation in a letter last month to the state Senate reform committee. In part, it said the bill clarifies the difference between total disability and partial disability, as well as the compensability of mental illnesses that weren't caused by physical trauma.

"The bottom line is that it creates more predictability in the workers' compensation system for both employers and injured workers," the letter reads. "A more predictable system makes the state far more attractive for job expansion and job creation."

In a statement Wednesday, Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, argued that the workers comp bill would "erode (workers') rights and the benefits they depend on to survive."