Workers’ comp, unemployment bill passed

Lawmakers passed a bill April 10 that affects workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits.

LB961, as introduced by Omaha Sen. Tanya Cook, originally would have enabled workers injured due to willful negligence of their employers to seek damages outside of the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act.

During general file debate, senators adopted a Judiciary Committee amendment on a 30-0 vote. It replaced the bill with provisions of three other bills:

LB951, introduced by Omaha Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh, clarifies that a lump sum settlement that is not required to be submitted for approval by the state Workers’ Compensation Court shall be final and conclusive unless procured by fraud.

LB820, introduced by Hyannis Sen. Al Davis, authorizes the governor to make Nebraska a member of the Great Plains Interstate Fire Compact.

LB895, introduced by Norfolk Sen. Jim Scheer, ensures that the wage used to calculate workers’ compensation indemnity benefits for volunteer fire or emergency service personnel is 1.5 times the maximum state average weekly wage or wages from his or her regular employer, whichever is higher.

During select file debate, Omaha Sen. Heath Mello offered an amendment that included provisions from two of his bills. Senators adopted the amendment on a 27-0 vote.

LB373 amends the Nebraska Construction Prompt Pay Act to establish a maximum cap on the retainage amount at 10 percent and, once the project is 50 percent complete, at 5 percent. The bill requires the owner to pay the retainage to the contractor within 45 days of substantial completion, after which the contractor must pay subcontractors within 10 days. Builders and subcontractors may receive attorney fees and costs if awarded damages.

LB559 allows employers to establish a short-time compensation plan, which temporarily provides unemployment benefits to eligible employees. Employers that provide health and retirement benefits to eligible employees are required to continue offering the benefits under the plan. Employers are prohibited from hiring additional staff while the plan is in effect.

Senators advanced the amended bill from select file on a voice vote April 8.

The bill was passed April 10 on a 47-0 vote.

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