The Tennessee “Option” legislation, which would have removed the legal requirement for businesses to purchase typical workers’ comp insurance in the state, is effectively dead. The measure, SB721, with its companion bill HB997, can be called back in the 2016 session. Representatives for the Association of Responsible Alternatives to Workers’ Compensation, (ARAWC) a lobbying group based out of Texas that aims to expand opt-outs to other states, stated that the fact that the Tennessee “Option” did not become law this year is not a reflection of overall sentiment about the possibility. Brent Buchanan, Communications Director for ARAWC, told WorkCompCentral, “Legislation this big rarely passes in the first year in any Legislature.” The Tennessee “Option” would have required employers who decline traditional workers’ comp to provide alternative benefits, much like the Oklahoma “Option” which passed last year. The benefit levels though were any issue of concern for lawmakers and stakeholders, with both labor groups and insurers generally opposing the idea.
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