Workers’ Compensation Reform: A Case Study of the Legislative Process in Michigan

At a 1979 workers’ compensation seminar for the Michigan Legislature, University of Michigan law professor Marcus Plant closed by noting that “[m]y intent was to sketch in broad strokes the background of our workers’ disability compensation law. It is my firm belief that wise decisions as to where we should go cannot be made unless we know how we got where we are. ” I share Professor Plant’s belief. I feel strongly that wise public policy decisions about where we should go next in the reform process depend substantially on a good understanding of how we got where we are today. Accordingly, !will describe tonight the people, politics, and legislative process that recently resulted in the passage of the Michigan Worker’s Disability Compensation Act.