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Senate Journal: Page 1229: Monday, April 22, 2002

Under Senate File 2190, a worker who has suffered a partial disability of 35
percent for a damaged shoulder tendon, can only recover a workers’ compensation
payment of 15 percent, for a subsequent and unrelated back injury, sustained on the
job, which results in an additional 50 percent loss to the worker’s earning capacity. As
such, this worker, whose working capacity has fallen from 100% to 15%, would see his
or her compensation payment reduced under Senate File 2190 from 85% to 50%. This
result would be unjust and untenable. Not only would it lead to an unconscionable
windfall for employers, at the expense of working Iowans, but it would also jeopardize
the safety of workers by removing a powerful incentive for Iowa companies to maintain
safe working environments.

Workers’ compensation is widely regarded as an important tool to ensure that
employers update working environments and minimize any hazardous working
conditions that may jeopardize the health and safety of their workforce. Workers’
compensation also constitutes the first line of defense against economic catastrophe,
whenever a wage earner sustains a substantial work-related injury. Senate File 2190
would impose undue hardships on injured workers and their dependants by shifting
the fiscal responsibility for support following a work-related injury from the employer
to the injured employee. Senate File 2190 may also have the unintended consequence
of increasing the tax burden placed on Iowa taxpayers, who fund public assistance
programs that support injured and/or displaced workers with reduced earning

The state of Iowa must protect its workers. Protection cannot be provided without
ensuring that workers who suffer a substantial work-related injury have access to a
balanced and consistent compensation schedule. Senate File 2190 would create a
plainly inequitable compensation schedule by expanding apportionment limitations in
a manner that would substantially reduce compensation payments made to employees
who suffer more than one work-related injury, or a single injury that follows a
preexisting functional condition. This bill would shift an unjust portion of the burden of
diminished employability away from employers, and place it squarely on the shoulders
of injured workers.

For this reason, I hereby respectfully disapprove Senate File 2190.


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