Home > Case Histories, Industry Issues, Prime Contractor Liability, Workmens Compensation > Bill to deny workers’ comp to illegal immigrants clears House

Bill to deny workers’ comp to illegal immigrants clears House

By Phil Drake on January 19, 2011 Montana Watch Dog Press

HELENA – Montana took another step Wednesday toward becoming the first state in the country to deny workers’ compensation benefits to illegal immigrants when the House approved the third reading of HB 71.
The bill passed 60-39, with no discussion. It now moves on to the Senate and, if it passes there, goes on to the governor’s office.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gordon Vance, R-Bozeman, said earlier that under current law, when an illegal immigrant is awarded benefits they may leave the country and those benefits are then sent to their new address, taking the money out of Montana. He said that also makes it difficult to send a physician to check on the health status of the recipient.
Montana has the highest workers’ compensation rates in the country and has several bills now in the Legislature trying to deal with the issue.
Kevin Braun, assistant general counsel of Montana State Fund, Montana’s insurance carrier, told the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month that his agency has seven to eight claims a year in which the claimant’s Social Security number does not match.
Some lawmakers who voted against the bill have warned it could cause headaches to business owners who could have employees who are illegal immigrants sue them if denied workers’ compensation. Supporters countered the bill would prompt employers to give new hires more scrutiny.
In an earlier interview with MontanaWatchdog, Rebecca Smith, coordinator of the Immigrant Worker Justice Project for the National Employment Law Project, said Montana would be the first state in the nation to completely ban illegal aliens from receiving workers’ compensation.

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