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After weeks of waiting and at a time when the majority of the State has directed their focus on Brownback's catastrophic tax plan and the infighting between republican legislators, Sen. Susan Wagle finally called a conference committee on SB 416 this morning.

As a quick refresher: Senate Bill 416 started out as a completely noncontroversial bill but now is now a combination of several anti-worker pieces of legislation. SB 416 as amended, by suggestion of Sec. Brownlee, now allows the Department of Labor to leave workers high and dry if their employer challenges unpaid wage claims in court.  The bill now contains the contents of SB 355 and HB 2638 as explained below.

Read more for details on the all out assault on workers in Kansas.

Senate Bill 355  deletes language in the Wage Payment Act that requires the Secretary to appeal a wage payment decision on behalf of an employee if the wage payment was under $10K, which they are currently required to do.  This will unnecessarily force workers who have been denied wages to obtain their own representation or go through the process on their own if they want to appeal a decision. It also deletes language that allows the Department’s Division of Industrial Safety and Health to inspect private company worksites for safety and health hazards,.

House Bill 2638 includes provisions that deal with lump sum payments or severance pay in the calculation of UI benefits. Under the bill an employee who separates with a lump sum payment for accrued sick or annual leave or remaining vacation time for example would have their UI benefits delayed as a result. So if you get a lump sum payout when you are laid off – regardless if that payout is for wages already earned – your unemployment benefits would be held back. The bill also lowers employer contributions to the UI Trust Fund at a time when the State is borrowing money from the Federal Government (and paying interest on it) to pay the State’s current benefit claims. The bill also abolishes the Employment Security Advisory Council which was created to advise the Secretary on changes to Employment Security Law and gave labor and business a seat at the table when changes, such as the ones detailed in this bill, were brought forward. Sec. Brownlee has never called a meeting for this council and therefore has decided no future Secretary of Labor should have such a resource available to them either.

And as if SB 416 wasn't bad enough for Kansas workers already this morning the committee showed every attention of loading up the bill in conference committee with multiple anti-labor bills that have been preventing from passing earlier in the session. All of this is happening at the urging of Sec. Brownlee, just proving that the Kansas Department of Labor has not only failed to represent any workers since the day she took office but has completely turn it's back on the hard working Kansas families in our state.

Below are the potential additions to SB 416 in conference as indicated this morning by the conference committee.

HB 2531 makes changes to the selection process for Workers Comp Appeals Board judges and Employment Review Board members (Employment Review Board hears unemployment compensation appeals). Currently, members of these boards are nominated by a two-member committee representing both labor and industry. The process is balanced and has worked well since 1993. HB 2531 changes this process to establish a 7-member commission heavily stacked towards business interests.  The bill doesn’t even have the appearance of being fair.



HB 2558 makes some seemingly mundane changes to the Work Comp Act but will also let Karin Brownlee’s Director of Work Comp ignore complaints of work comp judge bias. Under the law, if a party in a work comp case believes the ALJ is biased they can appeal to District Court and ask for a recusal. This bill requires them to appeal to the Director of Work Comp – a political appointee – to make that request. There is no reason to make this change and what kind of bias do you think Karin Brownlee’s political appointtee is going to be looking for? With Karin Brownlee’s record on “taking care” of workers, we can only imagine.

Find your state senator by clicking here and tell them to reject Brownlee anti-labor omnibus by standing against SB 416 and protect the rights of Kansas workers.
If your state senator/ representative is a member of the conference committee (listed below) be sure to tell them to stop the attack of Kansas workers and let SB 416 die in conference.

Conference committee members:

Sen. Susan Wagle
Sen. Julia Lynn
Sen. Tom Holland
Rep. Gene Sullentrop
Rep. Marvin Kleeb
Rep. Mike Slattery

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jacey, Dirtandiron, ChicDemago

    Reach me on twitter: @ColinCurtisKS

    by Colin Curtis on Wed May 16, 2012 at 06:14:26 PM PDT

  •  I used to live in Olathe & read about Brownlee (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    She isnt smart enough to write, let alone comprehend, the legislation she's proposing...the words have two too many syllables.

    I believe she replaced Kay O'Connor -- which isnt saying much whatsoever.

    Sorry, bud, but for me, the best thing about Olathe and KS was seeing it in my rear view mirror on my way to NY.

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect -- Mark Twain. Ode to Social ME-dia: Sweets and tweets, self indulgently fed. First widens seats, second fattens heads -- Dcrolg

    by dcrolg on Wed May 16, 2012 at 07:38:59 PM PDT

    •  I'm in KCK... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and I've been thinking seriously it might be about time for ME to be seeing this state disappear in my rear-view mirror, too.

      I need to find myself a solidly BLUE state.  I'm tired of living in the only county that consistently votes Democratic.  And this year, when they finally get the redistricting approved, even THAT will probably be ripped out from underneath me.

      Had been feeling like this for a while inre: the murderous anti-choice nuts here -- especially when I learned the state joined the free-for-all concealed carry crowd.  But the latest just-passed and signed legislation (against Sharia courts) left me feeling there's no hope for KS anymore.

      If only one had the money to bring a lawsuit against the state as being guilty of violating that just-passed law - in principle, if not in actual practice!  IMO, a good case could be made - point for point - of all this religiously based Evangelical judicial fervor as being exactly the same as the Sharia Law they so revile.  

      We may not chop off people's hands... we just strip whole families of everything they own and leave them, desolate, on the streets to starve and die.

      From anti-worker laws to laws against private decisions regarding my "lady parts," I'm sick to death of their religiously-biased laws.

      Er... sorry for the rant.  It's been one of those days, I'm afraid... :(


      •  No apologies necessary. Believe me...I get it (0+ / 0-)

        In KS, my kids were called un-american because they didn't go to church...amongst other blue state behaviors.

        If it were not for Sprint, Kansas would have remained one of those reasons why flying from NYC to SFO took so long.

        My people were back in upstate NY; I'm home now and a Cuomo is again my governor.  They may not have decent Olkahoma Joe's type of BBQ here, or Elbow chocolates, but the air is much fresher.

        BOL to you.

        Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect -- Mark Twain. Ode to Social ME-dia: Sweets and tweets, self indulgently fed. First widens seats, second fattens heads -- Dcrolg

        by dcrolg on Thu May 17, 2012 at 07:47:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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