Ann Maher May 27, 2015, 2:05pm


SPRINGFIELD - The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday afternoon voted down Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposal to reform the state's workers' compensation system in a 8-4 party line vote.

The committee heard from administration officials and others who said reform was necessary to make the state more competitive.

Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), committee chair, challenged proponents' position that they didn't want to dismantle the work comp system. He said that it matters how states treat their workers.

When "free labor" was in place, he said, "southern states were a lot more competitive."

He said that more time is needed to realize benefits of reforms made to the work comp system in 2011.

Raoul also took issue with the proposal's caustion standard which would mandate that at least 50 percent of a worker’s injury must be related to work done for an employer in order to receive compensation.

He said it would unfair, if for example, his bad knees from playing basketball rendered an injury uncompensable if a piece of equipment fell on those knees while working at a factory.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) said the problem in Illinois is that jobs are leaving and the state is not competitive.

"If there's no business... there's not workers," she said.

She also said that the hypothetical factory worker could sue his employer in circuit court claiming work place negligence.

The committee will take up a proposal to reform the state's venue laws on Thursday.

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