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Rauner Loses, but His Comp Adviser Wins House Seat

Thursday, November 8, 2018 | 202 | 0 | 5 min read

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, long criticized by labor advocates for his opposition to some workers' compensation measures, was defeated in his bid for re-election Tuesday. But his top adviser on workers' comp was elected to the state House of Representatives.

Dan Ugaste

Dan Ugaste

Dan Ugaste, a workers' compensation defense attorney, defeated Democrat Richard Johnson for the House District 65 seat, which includes the west Chicago suburbs of Elgin and Geneva. Ugaste replaces Republican Rep. Steven Andersson, who did not seek another term this year.

Ugaste won 52.4% of the vote to 47.6% for Johnson, a high school teacher who outspent Ugaste almost three to one, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Ugaste will be in the minority in the Illinois General Assembly, which saw several more seats go to Democrats. Rauner's loss to Democrat J.B. Pritzker has given hope to worker advocates because Rauner vetoed some employee- and physician-friendly bills. 

One measure Rauner vetoed is Senate Bill 904, which would allow medical providers to bill employers directly, charge interest and sue in trial courts when insurers won’t pay bills for providing treatment to injured workers. 

The veto infuriated physicians and lawmakers who have worked for years to correct a loophole in the law that they say has allowed workers’ comp carriers to drag their feet on bills and avoid paying interest altogether. 

Democrats now face two options on SB 904 and other workers' comp bills: A veto session runs two days next week and in December. Or, lawmakers could wait until January when the new governor and a larger majority of Democrats control both chambers.

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