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Conflicted S.C. Senators “Want It Both Ways” On Workers’ Comp Votes March 15, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.



FITSNews – March 15, 2007 – Five South Carolina Senators who are trying to kill a workers’ compensation reform bill recused themselves this week from voting on a new Workers’ Compensation Commission appointment. Each cited a conflict of interest given their status as attorneys at firms which handle workers’ compensation cases. Senators John Hawkins, Brad Hutto (above, left), Gerald Malloy, Luke Rankin and Vincent Sheheen all abstained from voting on the nomination of new workers’ comp commissioner Derrick Williams earlier this week.

The obvious question is this: If it is admittedly inappropriate for these conflicted Senators to vote on a workers’ compensation commissioner, why is it then appropriate for them to vote on the workers’ comp bill and its related amendments?

“It’s a good and fair question,” Senator Malloy told FITSNews. “But all of us are steeped with conflicts in the General Assembly.”

Pro-business forces don’t see the issue being explained away that easily, though.

“They’re trying to have it both ways,” said S.C. Club for Growth Executive Director Joshua Gross. “And what we’re going to end up with is the ‘Trial Lawyer Protection Act,’ not a real workers’ compensation reform bill.”

South Carolina’s workers’ compensation premiums grew by 18% last year, and the state ranks second in the nation since 2000 in the rate of premium increases. As premiums continue to skyrocket, small businesses can no longer afford to pay them, driving down wages and hindering employers’ ability to operate.

“We need workers’ compensation reform because it helps our state’s business climate,” Gross said. “We’re in a position right now where our workers’ comp costs are costing businesses the ability to create new jobs.”

South Carolina ranks second in the nation in unemployment and has the 42nd worst legal climate in the nation, according to a 2006 report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.



1. jadedlistener - March 16, 2007

Where the hell did Hutto get that jacket? Looks like a high school graduation present from the early 80s. Geez, will somebody tell Malloy to take him to Lourie’s?

2. Broke Back Moutin' - March 19, 2007

It actually is not that hard to reconcile. They don’t vote on commissioners because they will actually be trying cases before them (makes sense), and they actually have input on the legislation because they are well versed in it – makes sense too. I would see the same actions by a worker’s comp defense attorney in the legislature (if there are any) as completely appropriate…or wait, le’me guess, are any proworkers comp Senators she not vote on this bill. Should any Senator’s who own small businesses or have to pay worker’s comp premiums recuse themselves from voting? Hardly. Don’t forget Sen. Tommy Moore’s is in a business where he probably pays some of the higherst worker’s comp coverage rates around – I don’t think that means he shouldn’t vote on this bill, actually that makes him (like an attorney who works on either side of this issue) a perfectly knowlegable person to have input in and vote on this bill.

3. S.C. Trial Lawyer Legislators Coming Under Fire « FITSNews For Now - March 20, 2007

[…] – March 20, 2007 – Five S.C. Trial Lawyer Senators who recused themselves last week from voting on a Workers’ Compensation Commission appointment due to conflicts of interest are now […]

4. Life Is Ironic « FITSNews For Now - April 3, 2007

[…] (above – long story). Or that Alanis Morrisette song. Or watching five State Senators admit to a conflict of interest on one workers’ compensation vote while using numerous other votes to kill meaningful […]

5. Jack Royal - April 4, 2007

It doesn’t seem out of line for the Senators to excuse themselves from voting. It does seem out of line for them to make sure they add additional amendments to the bill after they have done so, and know its going before session for a vote.

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