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Relief sought by businesses

Ryan Carter

The Burbank Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with a neighboring

chamber to discuss ways to nudge legislators to better deal with

skyrocketing workers’ compensation costs.

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The Burbank and Glendale chambers are inviting members to

participate in a joint meeting to discuss the issue at 9 a.m. Jan. 8

at the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, 200 W. Magnolia Blvd.

The committee meeting will give chamber members a chance to voice

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their concerns and learn more about workers’ compen- sation

legislation. Tom Hagerman of Independent Business Coalition, an

advocacy group for small and medium-sized businesses, will explain

changes he believes are needed to save the workers’ compensation

system.

The goal is to write a letter to local legislators such as state

Sen. Jack Scott (D-Burbank) and Assembly- man Dario Frommer

(D-Burbank) outlining chamber concerns about bills that have passed

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or legislation that is pending.

Local businesspeople say their workers’ compensation rates are

skyrocketing between 50% and 100%, leaving them to wonder why other

states such as Arizona have much lower rates.

“The real issue is properly understanding what changes need to be

made and why it’s good to make those changes,” said Ernest Burger, a

Burbank attorney and chairman of the Burbank chamber’s government

review council.

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Legislators worked this year to bring down costs that businesses

pay for workers’ compensation. But local merchants feel it has not

been enough.

“They enacted some reforms to alleviate costs, but the problem is

if you raise my workers’ comp rates by 100% and then you pass reforms

that make that rate 90%, I’m sorry, but I’m not helped,” said Susan

Bowers, executive director of the Burbank chamber.

Bowers said that even with some reforms to the system, which

trimmed some costs, the issue is front and center with the business

community.

“Workers’ compensation costs at the chamber were 125% over budget this year,” she said. “Yet the largest risk of injury is maybe a

paper cut.”

Burger said the governmental review council meetings happen

monthly. But this time, he and Glendale chamber council chairman Bill

Wiggins decided that instead of a typical meeting, where legislative

representatives answer questions and give bill updates, it was time

to invite Hagerman to talk to members at-large.

“The meeting is for the members to understand what went wrong with

the system and formulate a response to local legislators about what

we think should be done to help solve the current situation,” Burger

said.


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