Bryan Cohen May 17, 2013, 5:30pm

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) -- Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster and State Treasurer Clint Zweifel thanked the General Assembly Thursday for passing a bill to implement a temporary surcharge to address a shortfall in the Second Injury Fund.

Senate Bill 1 would add the surcharge starting in 2014.

Zweifel said the solution provided Missourians with fiscal responsibility and protection for employees injured at work. Koster said the fund's shortfall has had a significant impact on injured employees.

"Due to the fund's insolvency, the state is currently withholding payments totaling in excess of $32 million from more than 1,200 injured workers," the attorney general said in a statement. "Missouri workers deserve a fiscally sound resolution to this tremendous problem, and I commend the general assembly for acting today."

Koster praised the sponsors of the bill and the Assembly for reaching a bipartisan agreement.

"I thank the General Assembly for passing Senate Bill 1, which addresses the insolvency of the Second Injury Fund," he said. "I particularly appreciate the bill's sponsor, Sen. Scott Rupp (R-2nd), and Rep. Todd Richardson (R-154th), who handled the legislation in the House, for their dedication throughout the session to reach a bipartisan agreement on the bill."

If signed into law by the governor, the bill's provisions would not take effect until Jan. 1. As a result, the Second Injury Fund would not see increased revenue from the surcharge until the following April. The state would need to continue to manage withheld awards during that time.

Koster said his office would immediately start assessing when back payments could be made to injured workers.

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