Boosting workers compensation, easing voting restriction and regulating credit card interest rates top the modest legislative agenda this year for the Virginia AFL-CIO.
David H. Laws, state president, told reporters it "is not very long, but a meaningful shopping list" of issues.
Last year the Virginia Supreme Court, in a far-reaching decision, ruled that workers compensation could not be paid for diseases ordinarily occurring in life. The ruling has a "devastating result" on occupation safety, Laws said. "We want to get back to where we were."
Laws said his union also would work to make part-time workers eligible for unemployment compensation when they are laid off involuntarily.
Legislators said they expect little to be done on voting rights this year because a Senate panel already has agreed to study any changes for another year. Virginia, which Laws said ranks 46th in the nation in the number of eligible voters registered, said registration in the state "is a travesty. It's high time we lighten up . . . and let J.Q. Public participate in the process."
Laws noted that the Virginia banking lobby promised in 1983, when the state removed the limit on credit card interest rates, that such rates would rise and fall with the marketplace. Now rates are falling "everywhere but (at the) banks," he said.