Lawmakers Look At Pinnacol Perks, Salaries

State lawmakers are taking a closer look at perks paid by Pinnacol Assurance.

The perks are on the agenda Friday as a committee charged with looking at possible changes to the state-created workers' compensation company meets.

The panel is set to view a 7NEWS report about Pinnacol's expenses, including big bonuses, lavish dinners, trips to resorts, golf outings and $143,000 luxury suite at Invesco Field.

Republican Sen. Shawn Mitchell objected to watching what he called "a 15-minute hit job." GOP Sen. Ted Harvey also complained.

Democratic chairwoman Sen. Morgan Carroll said expenses affect Pinnacol's premiums and are relevant.

Pinnacol said the perks reward agents who sell its policies and Pinnacol Chief Executive Officer Ken Ross said the five- and six-figure bonuses are also necessary.

Pinnacol was set up by the state in the early 1900s to cover state employees and serve as the insurer of last resort for worker's compensation insurance. About a decade ago it was allowed to operate as a mutual insurance company.

While Pinnacol receives no direct tax money, the state and local governments pay the organization either to provide worker's compensation insurance or administer self-insured plans. Pinnacol also pays no state or local property taxes -- amounting to about $4.5 million savings last year -- and its employees are members of the Public Employee Retirement Association -- the state's generous pension system. Pinnacol's board is also appointed by the governor.

Earlier this month, a state legislative committee met to discuss Pinnacol. The group's leaders said they want to find out whether injured workers are wrongfully being denied benefits and whether the businesses that Pinnacol covers are being overcharged.

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