By Steve Friedman, Columbia Daily Tribune, Mo. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 6--Amid worries during this state legislative session of multi-million-dollar budget shortfalls and further belt tightening, asking to change one word in one state law -- from "a" to "the" -- might seem minuscule.
But for Missouri's business lobbyists, such a tiny word change to the state's workers' compensation law would be considered a major coup. It would strengthen the definition of a workplace accident, requiring work to be "the" major factor in an accident or injury instead of just "a" factor.
Business groups say such a reform would help stabilize a program they say has not run efficiently and is open to fraudulent claims from people injured outside the workplace.
"People that have been hurt in the system through no fault of their own should be the ones that workers' comp is helping," said Kelly Gillespie, a lobbyist for the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. "Workers' comp reform will only benefit the mass citizenry of Missouri."
This and other business group goals -- such as unemployment insurance fund solvency or economic development -- might make it through the lawmaking maze easier this year than in past sessions. Republican control of both the Missouri House of Representatives and the Senate -- the first such majority in 48 …