March 22, 2011

Bill limiting liability for Community Corrections, DSHS workers acting in good faith picks up some powerful supporters

The bill to limit liability for Community Corrections and DSHS social workers acting in good faith picked up the support of the state Attorney General’s office and the Department of Corrections Monday (March 21) in a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

ESSB 5605 had earlier passed the Senate 40-9.

A trio of Federation speakers applauded the high-level support.

“As a CCO, I do believe in accountability,” Local 308 member Ton Johnson told the committee. “But the problem from my perspective is we don’t have a good balance. Subsequently, the liability becomes the determinant consideration on operational decisions.”

Mike Wiseman, a Local 443 member of the Department of Health, who serves on a special Federation committee on liability reform issues, said ESSB 5605 supports the values of “accountability and improved services.”

The bill “doesn’t reduce the duties owed but it does set the criteria under which the government will pay for certain errors and omissions,” Wiseman said. “We don’t see any diminishing of the dedication or motivation of DSHS caseworkers. And we would suggest that that should not be read into the bill.”

“Too often bad outcomes are caused by non-state actors,” said another member of that task force, Steve Segal, a Local 443 member in DSHS. 

“This legislation will not cause bad outcomes. State employees who work these cases are conscientious, caring, hard-working. This legislation won’t change those attributes.”

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