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Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed a workers compensation reform bill into law Thursday, minus controversial language that would have limited benefits for older workers.
House File 518 passed the Iowa House of Representatives March 16 on a 55-38 vote, and the Iowa Senate March 27 on a 29-21 vote.
The original version of the bill, introduced in early March, came under fire for proposing to limit benefits to older workers. That language was removed in the final version.
“In the past 10 years, Iowa’s workers compensation system has mutated into a system benefiting trial lawyers at the expense of Iowa businesses and Iowa workers,” Gov. Branstad said in a statement. “Today, that ends by rebalancing the scales to ensure employees are compensated fairly for being injured on the job, while ensuring that abuses are curtailed. This legislation prevents attorneys from taking fees from injured workers when the employer was voluntarily giving benefits, ends the burden on the employer to demonstrate that intoxicated workers incurred injuries as a result of the intoxication, and ends an individual’s ability to receive workers’ compensation while receiving unemployment insurance.”
Study bills introduced Monday in the Iowa Legislature would reform a number of provisions in the state’s workers compensation system, including limiting benefits for permanently disabled older workers and blocking comp benefits for workers who were intoxicated at the time of an injury.