WMC Opposes Help for First Responders
Big business group gets legislative change so it's harder for police, fire fighters to get workers comp.
Republican legislative leaders made it more difficult for police, firefighters and other first responders to qualify for workers compensation in a coronavirus relief bill passed last week after a last-minute request by the big business group, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).
The change requires first responders sickened with the virus to show they were exposed to someone on the job with a confirmed case of coronavirus in order to qualify for workers compensation, according to a report Thursday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The original bill created a presumption that first responders with a positive test or who were diagnosed with the virus were sickened while working, rather than requiring them to prove they were exposed on the job.
Advocates for first responders say the change made by GOP legislative leaders makes it nearly impossible for them to get workers comp and that these employees can become infected without knowing it for weeks.
A WMC lobbyist told the Journal Sentinel that the group asked GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to narrow or dump the presumption because it was an improvement over current law that could cost more for local governments and employers.
WMC is one of the highest-spending outside electioneering groups in the state. The group has spent an estimated $26.2 million since the beginning of 2010 to elect Republican and conservative legislative and statewide candidates.
In addition, WMC boasts more than 3,800 business members who span more than a dozen special interests and industries that have contributed more than $67 million to the campaigns of Republican legislative and statewide candidates between January 2011 and December 2019.
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