The state’s largest lobbying group for Wisconsin manufacturers is touting efforts to curb rising worker compensation medical costs.

There’s a push to create a medical fee schedule to reduce medical costs employers pay, that’s similar to what 44 other states have enacted, said Scott Manley, WMC senior vice-president of government relations.

The Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council made up of employer and union groups, including the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and AFL-CIO, are close to recommending the agreed-upon bill, approved in August, to lawmakers.

Workplace injuries dropped 58 percent in the state from 1994-2014 but costs increased 450 percent, according to WMC. Manley said that puts Wisconsin businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

He said the bill has support but it will be a battle to get passed.

“The AFL-CIO and WMC, are in rare agreement with this, but it’s going to be tough because the medical provider industry will want to stop this bill,” Manley said at the Oct. 12 Sun Prairie Chamber of Commerce meeting.

WMC praised 2017-19 biennial budget provisions that eliminated personal property taxes for businesses and repealed the state’s prevailing-wage laws.

Phasing out the personal property tax equals a $74 million annual tax cut for business, according to Manley. WMC calls it a double tax for businesses and an administrative hassle that increased the cost to do business in Wisconsin.

“From our standpoint, it was a hassle and the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze,” Manley said at the Oct. 12 chamber luncheon, held at Buck & Honey’s, 804 Liberty Blvd.

Business owners also won’t be penalized for over collection of sales tax under a provision in the state budget bill.

College-bound high school students can also earn college credits through a program approved as part of the 2017-19 state budget and there’s more money for career and technical grants for high school kids — all of which found support from WMC.

“With the labor shortage we have now, this will get students better prepared to hit the ground running when they enter the job market,” Manley said.

WMC is also working on regulatory reform, Manley said, including Wisconsin’s Family and Medical Leave Act. He said there’s a push to align the state and federal FMLA law for Wisconsin businesses that currently have to follow both laws.

“Wisconsin remains one of a handful of states that has both a state and federal FMLA law,” Manley said, “creating a significant burden for employers.”

Correction: This version was updated to attribute the following statistics to Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce instead of Workers Compensation Research Institute: Workplace injuries dropped 58 percent in the state from 1994-2014 but costs increased 450 percent.

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