Fourth Public Hearing in 32 Hours Brings Out Critics on Another Controversial Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  It's been the year of sweeping proposals, big crowds, and public hearings at a pace few can remember so far this legislative session. Tuesday night brought the fourth public hearing in just 32 hours. This one focused on broad changes to workers compensation laws.

Iowa's original laws went on the books in 1913. Read it here.

Republicans, with their new-found power that gives them majorities in both the House and Senate, are looking to make major changes that include cutting off compensation to injured workers at the age of 67, decreasing coverage for pre-existing injuries, and declining compensation to those injured with drugs or alcohol in their system.

About two dozen people spoke at a public hearing on the changes, with several dozen more waiting outside the room.

"People like me will be screwed," Kevin Tully told lawmakers.

Tully said he had serious and lasting back injuries after falling from a roof during construction work. He said he worries those with some type of injury won't be able to find employment later.

But supporters of the bill argue workers compensation has become too expensive and burdensome for employers, and Iowa's rising costs make them a deterrent for those companies looking at moving or expanding in the state. Paul Gregorie, a Vice President of Global Human Resources for the Fisher Controls/Emerson in Marshalltown, said, "We're pushing companies either away from the state who might locate here or getting companies not to expand like we like to up in Marshalltown."

Republicans, if they choose, could debate and pass the changes in both the House and Senate this week.