Workers’ Comp Changes Worry Wyoming Businesses

June 15, 2005

Owners of small businesses say they worry that their insurance rates would increase under a proposed change to Wyoming’s workers’ compensation law.

But larger employers say the change would end their subsidy of smaller businesses under the state-run workers’ compensation program.

The Department of Employment’s Employment Tax Division is proposing to change how workers’ compensation rates are calculated by reducing the state’s five business-size categories to two.

Two consultants recommended the changes after determining that the system is inefficient.

At a public hearing June 9, representatives from PacifiCorp, Arch Coal, TIC, the Wyoming Mining Association and Sinclair Oil said the change would equalize the system.

“Hopefully it represents the true cost of the system,” Wyoming Mining Association Director Marion Loomis said. “The larger employers have been subsidizing the smaller employers.”

Kevin Kimball, past president of the Wyoming Contractors Association, said the change would help contractors compete with out-of-state companies operating under different guidelines.

But Lynn Birleffi, executive director of the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association, said an accounting firm told the association that the changes would be less fair for small businesses.

“We think it creates more inequities and less incentive for small and medium companies with a good claim experience,” she said.

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