Workers' Compensation Committee Update
July 30 ,2009
The Business Council successfully opposed several onerous legislative proposals during the 2009 state legislative session, and the session concluded without any significant Workers' Comp Law changes. The current status of key bills is as follows:
- S.2781 (Onorato) / A.2135 (John) - Would provide “rebuttable presumption” of total disability for claimants that qualified for Social Security Disability benefits for any period of time. Senate Labor Committee / Assembly Labor Committee. The Business Council opposed this legislation.
- S.1970-A (Stachowski) / A.3117-A (Schroeder) - Provided cost-of-living adjustments and increased benefit calculations for certain past death benefits and permanent total disability claimants. This bill would have resulted in more than 5 percent increase in total workers' comp program costs. Senate Finance Committee / Assembly Labor Committee. The Business Council opposed this legislation.
- S.2776-B (Onorato) / A.2021-B (John) - Provides that certain workers' compensation payments may be made in one lump sum without commutation to a present value amount. Passed both houses. Business Council reviewed, but did not take a position on, this legislation.
- S.2249 (Onorato) / A.469 (John) - Would in effect index state funding of occupational health clinic program to increases in inflation, requiring employer assessments to continue to finance increased state clinic funding. Senate Finance Committee / Assembly Ways & Means Committee.The Business Council opposed this legislation.
Based on input from member companies, The Business Council submitted comments on a pair of proposed rules that would implement the Safety/Loss Prevention Incentive program authorized by the 2007 reform act. These include a premium credit rule proposed by the Department of Insurance, and a program implementation rule proposed by the Department of Labor. The proposed rules, and The Business Council's comments, are available here. Generally, our comments raised concerns that the procedural and substantive requirements for eligible safety, substance abuse and return to work programs were excessive, and would dissuade participation, especially considering the limited credits proposed.
The WCB has issued its semi-annual “Regulatory Agenda,” available here. By statute, certain agencies are required to issue public notice of all anticipated regulatory initiatives for the next six months. Major initiatives include implementation of medical treatment guidelines, new regulations on IMEs, and rules implementing the 2008 legislation on self-insured group trusts.