Missouri businesses could face significantly higher costs for workers' compensation insurance next year.
The National Council on Compensation Insurance projects Missouri insurers will see an 11.6 percent increase in their claim costs in 2014.
This increase is driven partly by a new Missouri law that seeks to shore up the Second Injury Fund, which is for disabled workers who suffer additional on-the-job injuries. The law shifts some types of claims out of that fund and into traditional workers' compensation insurance.
A report from the Missouri auditor confirms that a state fund for disabled workers is insolvent.
State Auditor Tom Schweich said Friday that Missouri's Second Injury Fund had barely $3 million as of the end of 2012 but had unpaid obligations of $28 million.
The fund covers workers' compensation claims for employees who have previous injuries or disabilities and then suffer a new job-related injury. Auditors and financial analysts have warned for several years that the fund was on a path toward insolvency. But lawmakers have done nothing to address it.
Gov. Jay Nixon has signed into law more than two dozen bills covering a variety of topics, including disturbances of worship services, workers' compensation and child care providers.
The governor's office announced the bill signings Tuesday. One measure makes it a misdemeanor to intentionally disrupt or interrupt a worship service with profanity, noise or indecent behavior. Violators could face fines of up to $500 and six months in jail.
Most of the big issues this legislative session were tied to the state budget, which has been passed and sent to Governor Jay Nixon. That has many political pundits wondering if the last week of the 2012 session will be anticlimactic. But as St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin tells us, there are still a few hot-button items left to fight over.