It’s About that Time: Work Comp Legislative Update

Liz Carey

KY Workers’ Compensation Reform bill heads to Gov. Matt Bevin for signing.

Generally believed to be the biggest changes to workers’ compensation in that state in decades, the measure passed the House with a 55-39 vote. It now heads to Gov. Matt Bevin for his signature.

While the move is backed by business groups, it has had some push back from miners and first responders.

If signed the bill would impose a time limit of 15 years on permanent, partial disability claims. After 15 years, workers could apply for extensions through recertification filings that would allow them to continue to receive benefits.

Opponents to the bill say the 15-year time limit would unnecessarily put a burden on workers, especially first responders.

Rep. Adam Koenig, the bill’s sponsor, said in an interview with WorkersCompensation.com that the update was long overdue.

“This makes us competitive,” Rep. Koenig said.

GA passes bill to curb opioid misuse by state employees.

The Georgia legislature passed HB 701 last week that requires all state employees who are already required by law to undergo drug testing, to also be tested for opioids, including oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone.

The test will detect the use of these opioids in either their synthetic and semi-synthetic forms.

“Opioid abuse and misuse is ravaging our state and nation,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We have to continue to combat this issue with an all-in effort. This new law, championed by Rep. Kevin Tanner and Sen. Ben Watson with input from the Georgia Department of Administrative Services, will help us cut down on abuse and ensure public safety.”

The bill passed both the House and the Senate with votes of 159-1 and 51-0, respectively.

FL Gov. Rick Scott signs bill to cover PTSD with workers’ compensation.

A Florida bill that would cover PTSD in first responders has been signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Previously, Florida law prohibited anyone from receiving coverage for PTSD if they did not have a physical wound along with the syndrome. This bill, created after the Pulse Nightclub shooting, would allow first responders who respond to particularly horrific crimes, or crimes that involve children, to file workers’ compensation claims for PTSD.

The bill had appeared to stall in February after some business leaders pushed back, saying the bill would cost the state too much money. But support for the bill increased after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.

“Our firefighters and law enforcement are going to show up and do their job. It’s important for us to do our job,” Gov. Scott said during a press conference. “We expect people to take care of us, we should be doing the same for them.”

MI bill would require Amish to carry workers’ compensation.

A bill recently introduced in the Michigan legislature would require Amish-run businesses to post information about workers’ compensation coverage in a conspicuous place.

Rep. Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) introduced his bill earlier this month. Since then, the bill has acquired 56 co-sponsors. The bill would apply to all businesses, including family operated businesses.

“I’m concerned that certain smaller wood shops and light industrial businesses aren’t following all the rules to protect their workers,” Rep. Dianda said. “I hope that by requiring everyone to post proof that they have workers’ comp insurance, this will remind them that they must follow safety rules. If they fail to post the notice, that will flag the business for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs inspectors so that they can work with them on following all safety rules.”

According to UPmatters.com, inspectors have had problems in the past inspecting the state’s Amish-run wood shops and saw mills, which don’t always follow the rules set by the state.

Rep. Dianda said he hopes this will encourage Amish-run businesses to follow the same rules other businesses in the state do, and level the playing field for other businesses that may compete with the Amish for business.