Gov. Jay Nixon today signed Senate Bill 1, which will shore up Second Injury Fund and make changes to the workers' compensation program. The Governor had called on the General Assembly to address the issue of the Second Injury Fund in his January State of the State Address. The Governor also signed two bills relating to transportation and vetoed Senate Bill 240, citing harm to consumers and businesses from increased gas bills.
"I appreciate the bipartisan efforts of lawmakers and stakeholders to craft a fair solution to a difficult, complex and long running-problem," Gov. Nixon said. "Shoring up the Second Injury Fund will provide long-overdue certainty to businesses and security to injured workers. I thank Senator Scott Rupp and Representative Todd Richardson for their work to get this bill to my desk, and am pleased to make it law with my signature today."
Established in 1943 to encourage businesses to hire previously disabled or injured individuals, the Second Injury Fund is financed by a surcharge on businesses' workers' compensation costs. For several years, the fund has been unable to fully honor its obligations to pay claims. Senate Bill 1 authorizes a supplemental surcharge on businesses not to exceed three percent of their workers' compensation premiums and by making several changes to the scope of the Second Injury Fund's coverage.
The Governor also vetoed Senate Bill 240, which would have increased the maximum infrastructure surcharge a gas utility could collect from consumers by 30 percent and forced ratepayers to pick up the cost of a gas utility's non-paying customers.
"Responsible ratepayers should not have to pick up the tab for a utility's inability to collect bad debt," Gov. Nixon said. "In addition to this basic unfairness, Senate Bill 240 would have increased surcharges on families and businesses unnecessarily and weakened Public Service Commission oversight."
Gov. Nixon signed House Bill 103, an omnibus transportation bill that, among its many other provisions, modifies the requirements for commercial drivers licensees related to texting and cell phone use and increases fines for moving violations in active emergency zones.
House Bill 303 designates nine memorial highways and bridges including the Missouri portion of the new Mississippi Bridge in St. Louis as the "Stan Musial Memorial Bridge." Federal legislation that would designate the entire bridge the "Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge" is awaiting the President's signature.