Ramos: GOP Packs Workers' Comp Budget With Attacks On Workers
Firefighters see new barrier to care, workers pick up tab for reckless corporations, worker benefits cut
May 17, 2017
 
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State Rep. Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) today voted “no” on the Republican-led charge to restrict workers’ access to healthcare and benefits through the state’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) budget bill, House Bill 27. The bill passed the House Insurance Committee and the House Finance Committee on a party-line vote Tuesday. 


GOP lawmakers undertook a significant rewrite of what is typically a noncontroversial budget bill to include benefit restrictions on firefighters with cancer, a loophole for big corporations who hire undocumented workers, and a legal nod to the state’s largest failing online charter school and GOP campaign fundraiser, ECOT. 


New restrictions also halve the amount of time workers currently have to file a claim, something Democrats say could economically destabilizes thousands of Ohio families. 


“If the workplace is unsafe for one employee, regardless of status or documentation, it’s unsafe for all employees. It’s unsafe, period. We cannot allow unscrupulous employers to hire people knowing they can cut corners by not paying worker protection premiums for undocumented workers, effectively refusing to take responsibility should those workers suffer an injury on the job,” said Ramos. “In addition, I am concerned that this bill exacerbates the condition that makes all Latinos – regardless of documentation – feel as though they can’t turn to the authorities if they’ve been wronged, whether that wrong is a workplace injury or the drug dealer down the street.” 


Though Democratic lawmakers were able to push GOP lawmakers in committee to remove greater restrictions on benefit coverage for firefighters with cancer and their families, majority party lawmakers maintained barriers to coverage for firefighters by requiring firefighters and their families to prove their specific type of cancer does not stem from causes other than exposure to toxic fumes, carcinogens and hazardous chemicals. 


The new restrictions on BWC coverage for firefighters with cancer weakens the legislature’s bipartisan “Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act,” legislation signed into law in January that ensures benefit coverage for firefighters who develop cancer in the line of duty. 


Democratic lawmakers offered amendments to preserve the Palumbo Act, extend post-traumatic stress disorder coverage to first responders, remove the ECOT language, and hold corporations that hire undocumented workers accountable. All were defeated along party lines.

 
 
 
  
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