contended that a conflict could exist nonetheless. Brooks said, “There are others who opposed him besides those who voted against him, but when we could not get the necessary 11 votes to withhold confirmation, they just voted with the winning side.” Wilson said he opposed Erwin because of the tuition raise and Law School questions. “My other reasons are that I don’t believe a regent should address himself to the detailed running of the university as he has.” Wilson said he believes Erwin’s concept of the regents job is vastly too broad. G.O. Outlook Good for Comp Bill Austin Significant changes in the Texas law governing compensation paid workers who are injured on the job, or who suffer work-related illness, are evidently in store this year. The Legislature appears of a mind to pass the compromise workmen’s comp bill worked out in recent months by the Texas Manufacturers Association, the Texas AFL-CIO, and the Texas Trial Lawyers Association. The three groups have been at odds in the past over changing the law. The dispute has killed any revision of the statutes, to the detriment of the interests of each party. Heretofore, Texas workers have been among the nation’s most poorly compensated for industrial accidents, insurance companies have had higher costs than necessary in settling claims, and employers have paid about $5 in insurance premiums for each $1 of benefits that reach the injured worker, being among the top five in the nation in rates for such insurance. The Senate this week passed the measure, 30-0, and sent it on to the House, where passage is anticipated. Speaker Gus Mutscher appears optimistic about the bill’s chances of passage. He tells the Observer that the measure is set for a House Labor Committee hearing soon. Eighty-eight House members, a majority, have endorsed the bill, which is being carried in the House by Reps. W. C. Sherman of Fort Worth and Carl Parker of Port Arthur. The bill not only provides the first raise in benefits in 12 years, it includes a number of procedures that are designed to assure more money for injured workers in less time and with as little red tape as possible. GENERALLY the benefits would be raised by 40%. Maximum benefits would be increased from $35 to $49 weekly on temporary disability \(a maximum of 300 and specific injuries \(the maximum period The most important procedural change would be the establishment of conferences in the worker’s hometown on all disputed claims before their consideration by the Industrial Accident Board. The board has in recent months experimented with having an injured worker and representatives of the affected insurance company confer informally before coming before the IAB. In 61% of the cases settlement was worked 8 The Texas Observer out without the necessity of a board hearing. This experimental practice would, with passage of the bill, be made the usual procedure in comp cases, and is expected greatly to reduce the load of cases that would require hearings before the board and thus greatly expedite the beginning of benefits to workers and their families. Pre-hearing officers would be appointed to travel the state to hear claims. IAB member Tony Korioth told the Senate Labor Committee the board hopes to have pre-hearing The Senator From Canyon While at least one Capitol photographer struggled to focus on the sight, conservative Sen. Grady Hazlewood of Canyon, the upper house’s crusader against the New Left, sat reading the Rag, Austin’s underground weekly, just prior to the Senate’s convening one recent morning. Before the scene could be recorded Hazlewood put the paper aside as the morning’s business was begun. Hazlewood has been among the senators who have drawn laughter this session, the first in which a loudspeaker system has been used in the upper house, to inquire, intending double entendre, “Am I turned on?” conferences held within seven weeks of any injury or onset of work-related illness. Another feature of the bill would also speed up benefits. In the past lawyers have been given 15% of an injured worker’s award granted by the IAB and 30% if the board’s decision is appealed to court. Under the new law the fee would be 25% in either case. It has been thought that under the present law attorneys are prone to encourage their clients to appeal board decisions, since the lawyers would thereby get a higher fee. Another innovation would be to permit an employer who disagrees with the refusal of his insurance company to pay his injured employee for a maximum of ten weeks. If the employer and employee are upheld by the IAB or the courts then the insurance company would reimburse the employer. Korioth said a ten-week limit on “this experiment” is politically necessary, otherwise “the insurance people would drop out of the Senate balcony because it amounts to self-insurance.” Another procedural change would be to require that medical reports be made available by all concerned parties in the consideration of benefits. Presently such reports are not required, a fact that makes it difficult for the board to decide cases fairly. Workmen’s comp is not mandatory in Texas; under the bill, however, local and state governments would be required to provide such coverage for their employees. WORKMEN’S compensation was instituted in 1913 in Texas, Texas AFL-CIO the Senate committee hearing. It was agreed at that time, he said, that a worker should be paid 60% of his average weekly income for work-related illness or injury. The worker gave up his right to recovery of his full salary, Brown said, in exchange for a state-run system that would assure speedier compensation than would be the case in going to the courts. Brown said the increase in benefits are not enough, “but the other reforms in the bill are worth my coming to testify here today.” He, as others interested in the bill, expressed displeasure at some features, but “we accept this because for 12 years we have been unable to get the Legislature to move on this.” He indicated that organized labor will be asking for increased benefits in the future, saying that the original intention was that the worker should get about two-thirds of his weekly salary and that currently in Texas he gets about one third of that, the average worker’s income in Texas being $115 a week. The maximum ought to be $80.50, Brown said, but if there were any major amendments which would cause one of the three parties to withdraw support of the measure, “I would fear for the future of the bill.” increases in benefits called for in the bill will raise by 18% \(an additional $30 would pay. Texas employers “are assuming this burden as our part of this,” he said. “We have been a laggard state in this field,” Gray observed, adding however that Texas is considered a “high cost” state for such coverage. In any case, he went on, “the chief beneficiary will be the business climate of Texas.” Lawyers Association told the committee, “We think the bill is a good one,” adding that for too long the workers of the state have “sacrificed their arms, eyes, legs, and lives to the industry of this state for the pittance of $35 a week. . . . The benefits
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