Washington Workers' Comp Insurance Reform, Initiative 1082 (2010)
According to the Washington Secretary of State's office, the public workers’ comp insurance program at the time covered approximately 2.5 million workers. Coverage included work-related injuries, lost-time compensation, medical care and other services.
The measure was filed by Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW).
On June 30, two days prior to the state's petition drive deadline, supporters submitted an estimated 340,000 signatures for Initiative 1082. Following a 3 percent random signature check the secretary of state certified the measure on July 13, 2010.
|Washington Initiative 1082 (2010)|
Text of measure
The ballot title read:
According to the description prepared by the Washington Secretary of State:
This measure would permit certification of private insurers as industrial insurance insurers, and authorize employers to purchase state-mandated industrial insurance coverage through an “industrial insurance insurer” beginning July 1, 2012. It would establish a joint legislative task force to propose legislation conforming current statutes to this measure’s provisions, and would direct the legislature to enact such supplemental conforming legislation as necessary by March 1, 2012. It would also eliminate the worker-paid share of medical-benefit premiums.
The initiative was sponsored by Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW). According to the association they planned to use paid signature gatherers to collect the required signatures. The proposed initiative was endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Business.
In late August 2010 the Washington State Republican Party announced their endorsement for I-1082. "We urge the approval of Initiative 1082, which will help small businesses by eliminating the state government monopoly on worker's compensation insurance and open the market to private competition," they said.
Reports in August 2010 revealed that supporters collected an estimated $1 million in campaign contributions. According to late August reports, the Building Industry Association of Washington spent $500,000 to qualify the measure for the ballot. Liberty Mutual was reported to have contributed $300,000 to the campaign.
Below is a chart that outlines major cash contributions to the campaign in support of I-1082:.
|Building Industry Association of Washington||$1,000,000|
|Liberty Mutual (NH)||$700,000|
|The Hartford (CT)||$300,000|
|Farmers Insurance Services (CA)||$250,000|
The campaign committee in opposition to I-1082 was called "No-on-1082". Opponents argued that the measure would primarily benefit employers and insurance companies. "Small business owners understand that I-1082 is loaded with fine print that benefits the insurance industry: Forcing our state's employers to pay the entire workers' compensation premiums of their employees will cost hundreds of millions of dollars: That's in the initiative," said Alex Fryer, spokesman for the No-on-1082 campaign.
The Washington State Labor Council was opposed to the proposed initiative. Council president Rick Bender said, "We are strongly opposed to it because it is not in the interest of workers, nor do we think it’s in the interest of small businesses as well – as they will soon find out from other states."
Below is a chart that outlines major cash contributions to the campaign in opposition of I-1082:.
|Stop Insurance Industry Takeovers||$1,725,000|
|Aerospace Machinists Industrial Lodge #751||$350,300|
|Washington State Labor Council (AFL-CIO)||$175,000|
|Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council||$125,000|
|Don't Invest in More Excuses (DIME) PAC||$100,000|
Media editorial positions
- The Yakima Herald-Republic supported I-1082. "Initiative 1082 sets up a classic election-year power struggle between industry and labor interests. Voters on Nov. 2 will decide whether to end the state's monopoly on workers' compensation insurance, also known as industrial insurance, allowing private insurers to compete for that business. That's the way it's done in 46 states, and Washington should be the 47th. Vote yes on Initiative 1082," said the editorial board.
- The Kitsap Sun supported the measure. "In states where similar measures have been enacted, employers’ insurance costs have dropped. This also could encourage safer workplaces with fewer claims, which would mean lower insurance rates for businesses. Vote “yes” on I-1082," said the board.
- The Bellevue Reporter was in support. "I-1082 will end the state's monopoly on workers insurance, bringing a fairer, more financially stable system. Vote 'Yes' on I-1082," said the board.
- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was opposed to I-1082. In an editorial, the board said, "The vast majority of us know little of what it is to lose one's ability to work. But we should understand that to put folks' fate in the hands of insurance companies, unregulated and out to maximize profits, is short-sighted and callous. The current system doles out benefits, often at a minimal level, but benefits that a person can count on. And most people making smaller claims want to get the matter settled, and get back to work."
- The Olympian was opposed to I-1082. In an editorial, the board said, "As written, I-1082 would virtually eliminate oversight of workers’ compensation claims, leaving injured workers in the lurch. I-1082 is also a terrible hit on small business owners — increasing their tax burden at a time when many are barely hanging on."
- The Columbian was opposed to I-1082. In an editorial, the board said, "I-1082, which would dangerously weaken state oversight over the insurance industry, seeks to repair a system that is not broken. Our state’s workers comp system is run more efficiently than private systems in other states."
- The Pacific Northwest Inlander was opposed to I-1082. In an editorial, the board said, "But this is not reform — this is just a grab for market share by big insurance companies."
- The Stranger was opposed to the proposed initiative. The editorial board wrote, "...while no one thinks the state workers' comp program is doing just fine—it needs reform—this initiative would privatize workers' comp in a way that hurts workers...Vote no."
- The Skagit Valley Herald was opposed to I-1082. In an editorial, the board said, "Whatever the problems with the state’s worker compensation system, we are wary of a fix fashioned by the state’s most injury-prone industry and insurance companies...The system isn’t perfect. But its flaws should be worked out through the legislative process with both business and labor at the table."
- Publicola opposed I-1082. "We think choice is good, and we’re skeptical of the efficiency of the state’s monopoly on workers’ compensation, but giving insurance companies keys to the overhaul of our system—and allowing them to operate free of regulations—is a step in the wrong direction," said the editorial board.
Reports and analyses
In 2010 the Washington Office of Financial Management released fiscal impact statements for initiatives scheduled to appear on the 2010 ballot, including Initiative 1082. Below is an excerpt:
Industrial insurance premium paid into state Trust Funds is estimated to decrease $1.1 billion–$1.43 billion by calendar year 2014 as employers shift to private insurers. State claim costs correspondingly decrease as claims shift from the state to private insurers. State revenue is estimated to increase $61 million–$75 million over five fiscal years. Costs are estimated to increase up to $179 million for the state and $47.25 million for local governments over five fiscal years. Assuming no legislative action to conform statutes to the initiative, industrial insurance premium paid into state Trust Funds and associated costs may increase.
- See also: Polls, 2010 ballot measures
- A September 9-12, 2010 poll of 500 likely voters by Elway Poll revealed that 31% supported the proposed measure, while 31% were opposed and 38% were undecided.
- An October 7-10, 2010 poll of 400 likely voters by Elway showed that 31% supported the proposed measure, while 40% opposed it and 29% were undecided.
|Date of Poll||Pollster||In favor||Opposed||Undecided||Number polled|
|Sept. 9-12, 2010||The Elway Poll||31%||31%||38%||500|
|Oct. 7-10, 2010||The Elway Poll||31%||40%||29%||400|
Path to the ballot
According to the Washington Secretary of State supporters scheduled an appointment with the state elections office for 11:30 a.m. on July 2 to deliver petitions. However, on June 30, two days prior to the state's petition drive deadline, supporters submitted an estimated 340,000 signatures for Initiative 1082.
Signature validity count
I-1082 qualified for the 3 percent random signature check. Supporters submitted 345,541 signatures. According to the Washington Secretary of State's office, of the 10,571 signatures that were reviewed, a total of 9,017 were accepted. The error rate was 18.9 percent, which according to state officials, was a little higher than average. Signatures were invalidated for several reasons: "no registration could be found for the signer, the signature didn’t match the one on file or there was no usable image on file for the signer, or because they were duplicates."
- Initiative petition deadlines arrive in Oregon and Washington
- Workers' Comp Initiative second to file in Washington state
- Building Industry Association of Washington, (sponsor)
- Save Our Jobs, (supporters)
- Vote No 1082, (opponents)
- Protect Washington (dead link), (opponents)
- The Seattle Times,"Economy, lawsuits hammer at BIAW," September 7, 2010
- The Spokesman Review,"Money pours into initiative campaigns," September 5, 2010
- Tri-City Herald,"Businesses worry about I-1082 costs," September 2, 2010
- The News Tribune,"Ballot will shape state budget," August 30, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State's: From Our Corner,"Here’s your quick guide to WA ballot measures," August 10, 2010
- KPLU 88.5,"$8.2M Spent So Far To Get Initiatives On Wash. Ballot," July 15, 2010
- The News Tribune,"Initiatives: Many are filed, but few are sane," June 1, 2010
- Washington's: From Our Corner,"2010 initiative season underway," January 26, 2010
- State of Washington,"Affidavit of proposed initiative," January 20, 2010
- Risk & Insurance,"Washington state: Builders seek WC reform through ballot initiative," May 17, 2010
- State of Washington: From Our Corner,"Homebuilders mount workers’ comp initiative," January 20, 2010
- The Bellingham Herald,"Builders turn in I-1082 signatures," June 30, 2010
- Associated Press,"Workers' comp initiative steps closer to ballot," June 30, 2010
- Washington's: From Our Corner,"`Direct democracy’ — A six-pack for 2010," July 2, 2010
- The Bellingham Herald,"Secretary Reed certifies I-1082 for ballot," July 13, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State,"Initiative 1082 brief description," accessed May 19, 2010
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- The News Tribune,"BIAW to push initiative on workers' comp," April 16, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Republicans back BIAW initiative," August 30, 2010
- Associated Press,"Wash. initiative campaigns draw big campaign cash," August 17, 2010
- Washington PDC "Save WA Jobs-Campaign Detail," accessed October 19, 2010
- Puget Sound Business Journal,"Workers’ comp Initiative 1082 sparks heated fight," September 24, 2010
- ,"‘No’ on Initiative 1082," October 13, 2010
- Washington PDC "Save No on 1082 Committee-Campaign Detail," accessed October 19, 2010
- The Yakima Herald-Republic,"End workers' comp monopoly," October 17, 2010 (dead link)
- Kitsap Sun,"OUR VIEW | Sorting Out the Ballot Issues," October 21, 2010
- Bellevue Reporter,"Vote 'Yes' on I-1053, to control taxes | editorial," October 21, 2010
- The Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Seattlepi.com: I-1082 - Boon to BIAW, bad for workers," September 10, 2010
- The Olympian,"Initiative would eliminate valuable oversight of workers’ comp," September 27, 2010
- The Columbian,"‘No’ on Initiative 1082: Changing state’s workers comp system would hurt employers, reduce benefits," October 13, 2010
- Spokane Inlander,"Decision time," October 6, 2010
- The Stranger,"VOTE, BABY, VOTE!," October 13, 2010
- Skagit Valley Herald,"Initiatives 1098, 1082," October 19, 2010
- Publicola,"PubliCola Picks “No” on Initiative 1082," October 16, 2010
- FireDogLake,"WA Ballot Measures Polling Under 50% – So Much for That Anti-Tax, Less Government Wave," September 16, 2010
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer,"Skeptical public? All initiatives under 50 percent in poll," September 15, 2010
- The Spokesman Review,"Initiative support tepid in poll," September 20, 2010
- Publicola,"Poll: Candy Tax Repeal Gains Ground, Four Initiatives Losing" October 11, 2010
- The Bellingham Herald,"Builders schedule year's first initiative turn-in," June 21, 2010
- Herald Net,"BIAW plans delivery of its initiative petitions," June 21, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State's Blog: From Our Corner,"It’s raining initiatives...," June 24, 2010
- The News Tribune,"Could be 6 citizen initiatives on ballot in November," June 27, 2010
- The Daily Herald,"Up to 7 initiatives could make ballot in Washington," June 28, 2010
- Washington Secretary of State's: From Our Corner,"`3-way’ workers comp initiative scores fall ballot spot," July 13, 2010
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