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Conn. lawmakers consider workers comp measures in wake of shooting

Conn. lawmakers consider workers comp measures in wake of shooting

Connecticut lawmakers are expected to consider legislation potentially expanding workers compensation benefits after last month's killing of 20 children and six Sandy Hook Elementary School employees.


Meanwhile, medical costs and indemnity benefits are being paid for workers injured during the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn., John A. Mastropietro, chairman of the Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, said on Monday.

Workers comp claims also are being processed for benefits due to the survivors of school employees killed, Mr. Mastropietro said. The New Haven, Conn.-based Connecticut Conference of Municipalities provides workers comp insurance for the Newtown Public School District.

In the wake of the killings, unions representing police and firefighters as well as school employee representatives have held discussions about legislation that potentially could expand the situations under which workers comp benefits are available for mental health issues, Mr. Mastropietro said.

Connecticut workers comp law does not provide for what are known as “mental-mental” claims, he said.

“There is very limited ability for a police officer and a firefighter to receive psychological counseling,” through the workers comp system, Mr. Mastropietro said. “Most, if not everyone, agrees that the circumstances which existed in the Newtown tragedy do not meet the requirements of the statute for even the psychological counseling.”

The discussions have included the possibility of providing indemnity benefits for those who would need to be away from work while receiving counseling.

A related “placeholder bill” addressing workers comp benefits for first responders has been introduced into Connecticut's General Assembly, Mr. Mastropietro said. But any details of what it might contain, and whether it will address school employee benefits, will be considered after the General Assembly convenes on Jan. 9.

“I wouldn't expect that there is going to be any greater degree of specificity until sometime toward the middle of the month when the legislature gets back into session and people take a look at how they want to address this,” Mr. Mastropietro said.