First Vote on TN Workers Comp Overhaul Reveals Party-Line Divide

An overhaul of the state’s workers compensation system began moving forward in the Tennessee legislature today. It would remove judges from the process, which is worrying some opponents.

The core of the proposal from Governor Bill Haslam is to set up a new agency to mediate disputes over how much employees should be paid when they’re hurt on the job. This is meant to keep both sides from having to hire a lawyer.

A few people who’ve been through such an experience sat through the first hearing. Barbara Graves was a nurse who says she was hit by a motorized wheelchair. She says,

“If it hadn’t been for the court system and my attorney, I don’t know what would have happened to me. I did end up being 100 percent disabled.”

Proponents say getting workers comp out of the courts would speed things along and benefit both sides.

Democrats voted against the measure, saying it puts too much power in the hands of the governor, since this new agency would report to him.