Hawaii Governor Lingle Vetoes Workers’ Comp Bill

May 7, 2007

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle handed state employers a victory last week, when she vetoed House Bill 854.

The bill would have required wage loss or temporary total disability payments continue to be paid even during a dispute, only to be terminated upon order of the Director of Labor and Industrial Relations, or if the employee’s treating physician determines that the employee is able to resume work and the employer has made a bonafide offer of work within the employee’s medical restrictions. And, if benefits were found to be unnecessary after a hearing and a decision, the benefits paid in error could not have been recouped.

“Improper termination of ongoing temporary total disability benefits is a source of much disruption and vexation to injured workers and those medical and vocational providers who seek to restore them to gainful employment,” the bill indicated.

But the state Chamber of Commerce had argued that not being able to suspend or recoup temporary total disability payments during or following a dispute would have raised costs for affected employers. The Chamber also said the law would have allowed an injured worker to collect twice for the same injury for TTD overpayments and when he or she collects permanent partial disability benefits.

Although the governor vetoed the bill, the Chamber still urged its members to contact their legislators to ask them not to override the veto.

Source: Hawaii Legislature, Chamber of Commerce

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