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Senate Majority Caucus Says Jobs the Number One Priority

In Washington State there are 50,000 less jobs than before the recession. The
percentage of the state’s population who are actively looking for work has hit a
30-year low.  That is why the Senate Majority Caucus is making the creation of
jobs its number one priority in the upcoming legislative session.
The recently released U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures come as no surprise to state Senators Janéa Holmquist Newbry and Sharon Brown, who say the slow recovery is partly the result of the state’s failure to act on key cost-saving reforms and address a regulatory environment hostile to entrepreneurship and job creation.
“As the 2014 legislative session begins, we must make improving our business climate and getting Washingtonians back to work our number-one priority,” said Holmquist Newbry, chair of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

Holmquist Newbry highlighted workers’ compensation as one of the key issues legislators should tackle when lawmakers return to Olympia on Monday to start the 2014 legislative session.

Holmquist Newbry, a Moses Lake Republican says “Nearly every stakeholder agrees that the current workers’ compensation system is too costly and in dire need of substantial reform. “The system simply isn’t working and isn’t sustainable; the Legislature’s failure to adopt common-sense reforms to our industrial-insurance system is yet another millstone around the neck of this sluggish, jobless recovery.”

Washington has the highest pension rate in the county, referring to the lifetime disability payments made to injured workers. One out of 20 workplace-injury claims ends in a pension, and injured workers in Washington are also off the job for an average of almost 300 days, three times the national average.

The news only got worse for employers and workers in December when the state Department of Labor and Industries announced that it will raise workers’ compensation rates by 2.7 percent this year.

Holmquist Newbry, the key author of the historic, bipartisan workers’ compensation reform agreed to in 2011, hopes the Legislature will also make additional reform of the state’s industrial-insurance system a top priority in the new session.

“The status quo is no longer acceptable,” Holmquist Newbry stressed. “If we want to attract new employers and jobs in addition to holding on to the ones we already have, Washington must become more competitive.”

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