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Published: Wednesday, 11/16/2011

Kasich shelves plans for workers' comp reform


LORAIN, Ohio -- At the end of a speech Tuesday in Lorain, Gov. John Kasich made a passing reference to his stinging defeat at the polls last week when voters overwhelmingly killed Senate Bill 5.

"You got to listen to folks,'' Mr. Kasich said. "I got that message the other night, OK? But you know what? You keep going.''

Among the things on the immediate table for the governor are dealing with "collateral sanctions'' that stand in the way of nonviolent convicted felons getting on with their lives, new shale exploration for natural gas in southern and eastern Ohio, an emphasis on increasing graduation rates at colleges and universities, and an unspecified new effort on Ohio's "war on drugs."

No longer apparently on the front burner is major reform of Ohio's workers' compensation system, one of the things he named as a top priority upon taking office early this year.

Among the ideas discussed was the injection of a private insurance element to compete with the state-run insurance fund for injured workers.

Mr. Kasich insisted that the proposal wasn't being shelved because of the contentious fight over Senate Bill 5.

"We've already done significant workers' comp reform, and we're focusing internally," he said. "To get major workers' comp reform, you're going to need both labor and management to sit down.

"But we've made progress," he said. "We've reduced the base rate. We've just reset rates again. There's a lot of things that we can continue to do to improve the system without having to go to the legislature. But some of the other things that have to be done have to be done with the cooperation of other folks."

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