Special Alert: TT Bill and More Vetoed by Gov. Hochul; Collateral Estoppel Bill Signed into Law
On 12/30/22, Governor Hochul vetoed three bills pertaining to workers’ compensation matters and signed one into law. She vetoed a bill redefining temporary total disability (S768/A1118), a bill that would have set the minimum rate of compensation as no lower than 1/5 of the state average weekly wage (S8271/A7178), and a bill that would have changed the legal standard for establishing a claim for mental stress (S6373/A2020). She signed into law a bill that prohibits any workers’ compensation board determination from having a collateral estoppel effect in any other action or proceeding arising out of the same occurrence, except for the determination of an employer-employee relationship (S9149/A10349).
Employers and carriers were concerned about the three vetoed bills, which were passed by the legislature over the summer. Each would have increased workers’ compensation premiums and the cost of doing business in the state.
However, the so-called “TT bill” was of particular concern because it had the potential to effectively eliminate partial disability classifications in New York given its definition of temporary total disability as the inability of an injured worker to fully perform their pre-injury job or modified work offered by the employer. Such injured workers would be allowed to receive the maximum benefit rate, no matter how much residual work capacity their own physician believed them to have. We discussed this concern along with our analysis that this bill would have increased the value of permanent partial disability awards and eliminate the labor market attachment defense in our white paper published over the summer.
The workers’ compensation defense bar was active in educating the public about the potential cost increases that would result from passage of this bill. Our firm wrote an op-Ed in The Buffalo News and our partner Dan Bowers and Mark Hamberger were interviewed by Buffalo Business First in their article about the bill. Attorney Peter Walsh of the Walsh and Hacker firm in Albany was interviewed in an article about the bill published in the Times Union in June 2022.
We are pleased to learn that the governor vetoed the TT bill and the other two bills that were passed by the legislature this summer. We believe her vetoes to be a “win“ for businesses in New York. This should serve as a reminder that employers and carriers concerned about the cost of doing business in New York State should be sure to monitor the legislative calendar for pending legislation in 2023 and contact their elected officials to discuss any legislation that they are concerned about.