This was a win-some, lose-some week for businesses in the legislature’s Judiciary Committee.
On the positive side, the panel approved a proposal that will help Connecticut’s economy and rejected others that could have damaged it.
On the negative side of the ledger, the committee gave its OK to a proposal that could significantly increase workers’ compensation costs for employers.
With weeks to go in the session, there is still time for lawmakers to reject any proposal that would weaken Connecticut’s economy and approve those that would strengthen the ability of businesses to create and keep good jobs.
Negative for Connecticut businesses
The Judiciary Committee approved SB-334, which could force employers to face three different costs for the same worker-related injury in certain workers’ compensation cases.
Specifically, in cases where a third party causes or contributes to an employee’s work-related injury, SB-334 will cut employers’ reimbursement by a percentage of the employee’s legal fees.
That means employers will pay medical benefits to the employee, plus their own legal fees to secure a lien in an action against a third-party contributor, plus the worker’s legal fees.
Positive for Connecticut businesses
The Judiciary Committee unanimously approved HB-5530, which amends the Connecticut Business Corporation Act in an effort to track changes to the Model Business Corporation Act.
It promotes uniformity with other states and makes Connecticut more attractive for public corporations considering whether to organize under Connecticut law or to change their state of organization to another jurisdiction.
And, because they were not acted on, these proposals died:
Higher costs: HB-5206 would have increased employers’ legal costs while padding the coffers of trial attorneys. It would have allowed discrimination claims to bypass the state’s administrative gatekeeping process (in the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities) and go directly to Superior Court.
Credit checks: HB-5061 would have made it harder for employers to hire the very best job candidates by limiting the circumstances in which an employer can use credit checks to fully assess the background of a job candidate.
Hiring someone is a big decision and significant investment for employers, but the proposal disregarded the many workplace positions in which one’s credit history may bear on the individual’s trustworthiness on the job.
Also rejected was HB-5060, which also would have made it more difficult for retail and food service employers in particular to fully assesss job candidates through background checks.
Healthcare: SB-480 would have advanced the interests of health care practitioners at the cost of health care patients and consumers. It would have exempted health care providers from Connecticut’s protective antitrust laws and carried negative implications for both workers’ compensation costs and health care costs.
Unauthorized practice of law: SB-487 could have subjected licensed attorneys to unauthorized practice of law claims, which would have had a chilling effect on commerce and commercial transactions in Connecticut.
Because the language in the bill was ambiguous and uncertain, the committee correctly chose not to approve the measure.