Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

02/24/2010 03:15 PM LABOR & COMMERCE


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Location Change from Room 17 --
*+ HB 342 EXTEND BOARD OF REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
*+ HB 346 WORKERS' COMPENSATION ADVISORY BOARD TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 346(L&C) Out of Committee
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 02/22/10>
*+ HCR 19 AIDEA REPORT ON IN-STATE FUEL STORAGE TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
<Bill Hearing Rescheduled from 02/22/10>
          HB 346-WORKERS' COMPENSATION ADVISORY BOARD                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:55:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON announced that the next order of business would be                                                                  
HOUSE   BILL  NO.   346,  "An   Act  establishing   the  Workers'                                                               
Compensation  Advisory  Board;  and providing  for  an  effective                                                               
date."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
3:56:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEUMAN made a motion to adopt Amendment 1,                                                                       
labeled 26-LS1447\R.1, Bailey, 2/15/10, as follows:                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
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          Insert new bill sections to read:                                                                                     
        "* Sec. 2. AS 23.30.095(j) is repealed.                                                                             
        * Sec.  3. AS 23.30.275, enacted  by sec. 1  of this                                                                  
     Act, is repealed June 30, 2015.                                                                                            
        *  Sec.  4.  Section  82, ch.  10,  FSSLA  2005,  is                                                                  
     repealed."                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
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          Delete all material.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
3:56:55 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES objected for purpose of discussion.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
3:57:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KONRAD JACKSON, Staff, Representative Kurt Olson, Alaska State                                                                  
Legislature, paraphrased from the sponsor's statement, inserted,                                                                
as follows [original punctuation provided]:                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     Since the mid-1980's  an informal workers' compensation                                                                    
     advisory committee  has operated in Alaska.   This "Ad-                                                                    
     Hoc"  committee was  comprised of  representatives from                                                                    
     organized  labor  and  from the  Workers'  Compensation                                                                    
     Committee of  Alaska - an  industry group  organized to                                                                    
     lobby  for changes  to  Alaska's Workers'  Compensation                                                                    
     Act.   The  Ad-Hoc   Committee   was  instrumental   in                                                                    
     effecting the  huge changes  made to  the Act  in 1988.                                                                    
     However, since  then, the committee has  been unable to                                                                    
     achieve any success in large  part due to their lack of                                                                    
     any  statutory  legitimacy.  In 2005,  the  legislature                                                                    
     amended  AS  23.30.095  to create  a  Medical  Services                                                                    
     Review  Committee to  advise  the  commissioner of  the                                                                    
     Department of  Labor and  Workforce Development  in the                                                                    
     area of medical costs  and related services in workers'                                                                    
     compensation.  In November  2009, the  Committee issued                                                                    
     its  final  report  and  recommendations.  One  of  the                                                                    
     recommendations was  the establishment by statute  of a                                                                    
     Workers'  Compensation Advisory  Council to  advise the                                                                    
     commissioner and  legislature in  the area  of workers'                                                                    
     compensation.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Similar councils  have been  created and  operate quite                                                                    
     effectively  in  other  states.    These  councils  are                                                                    
     charged  with  recommending  statutory changes  to  the                                                                    
     legislature as  well as  regulations to  departments in                                                                    
     the area of workers' compensation.   The purpose of the                                                                    
     council is to improve  workers' compensation systems by                                                                    
     drawing  together  representatives  from  all  workers'                                                                    
     compensation stakeholders  who gather and  analyze data                                                                    
     and information,  discuss and  debate options  and make                                                                    
     recommendations    regarding   problems    facing   the                                                                    
     effectiveness of workers' compensation systems.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     This bill  creates a council  similar to that  found in                                                                    
     many other western and  mid-western states. The Council                                                                    
     is  comprised of  11 voting  and 5  non-voting members:                                                                    
     four voting  members drawn  from organized  labor, four                                                                    
     voting members drawn from  various employer groups, and                                                                    
     three   voting  members   from   the  various   medical                                                                    
     societies.   Non-voting  members provide  expertise and                                                                    
     are drawn  from the insurance industry  (2 members) and                                                                    
     the legislature (one from each legislative body).                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. JACKSON remarked  that in the haste to have  the bill drafted                                                               
the council was  inadvertently named a board.   Amendment 1 would                                                               
correct that discrepancy.  He referred  to page 2, lines 18 - 20,                                                               
of Amendment 1,  and noted one additional change in  Sections 2 -                                                               
4,  repeal the  Medical Services  Review Committee,  since it  is                                                               
replaced by this new council.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
3:58:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  asked  for  the purpose  of  the  Medical                                                               
Services Review Committee.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. JACKSON  explained that in  2005, the legislature  amended AS                                                               
23.30.095 to  create a Medical Services  Review Committee (MSRC),                                                               
whose purpose  was to advise  the commissioner of  the Department                                                               
of Labor and Workforce Development  (DLWD) in the area of medical                                                               
costs and related services in workers' compensation.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  restated   that  the  committee  reviewed                                                               
medical services.  Thus, if a  person was injured on the job, the                                                               
MSRC would determine whether treatment is necessary.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. JACKSON  related that  the MSRC  does not  review cases  on a                                                               
case-by-case basis, but the committee  would review items such as                                                               
the entire medical fee schedule.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:01:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  T. WILSON  asked whether  the composition  of the                                                               
board is well rounded or if it should be changed.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JACKSON  explained  that  during  the  course  of  the  MSRC                                                               
meetings,  the  Alaska  State   Medical  Association  and  others                                                               
provided input as  interested parties.  He offered  his view that                                                               
the recommendations seem fairly  balanced, and although the final                                                               
composition may not  be perfect, the larger a council  or a board                                                               
becomes  the  more cumbersome  it  also  becomes.   The  proposed                                                               
Workers' Compensation Advisory Council  (WCAC) would be comprised                                                               
of 11  voting members, which seemed  to be a reasonable  size.  A                                                               
number of ex-officio members can  also provide input.  The WCAC's                                                               
meetings are  public so people  will have an opportunity  to make                                                               
comments at the regular WCAC meetings.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:02:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON explained that it has  taken four and a half years to                                                               
arrive  at  this point  and  a  significant  amount of  work  was                                                               
accomplished in the past six months.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:03:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN referred to page 2,  line 4, of HB 346 to the                                                               
two members  of the  legislature that would  be appointed  to the                                                               
WCAC.   He asked whether  it would be  useful to have  a minority                                                               
and majority viewpoint on the  WCAC, and select members that have                                                               
garnered the  most votes  and the  least number  of votes  in the                                                               
election process.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR.  JACKSON   answered  that  the  MSRC   recommended  that  the                                                               
leadership from  each body of  the legislature  make appointments                                                               
for membership serving on the proposed WCAC.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  suggested again that perhaps  both political                                                               
parties should be represented.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:04:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  NEUMAN  recalled  that typically  the  leadership                                                               
from  each  body  of  the   legislature  makes  appointments  for                                                               
membership serving on councils, boards, or task forces.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN maintained his concern.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. JACKSON agreed it is a policy call.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON  recalled that  the  Ethics  Committee is  the  only                                                               
committee he is aware of that makes that distinction.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  expressed interest in hearing  the viewpoint                                                               
from other committee members.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:06:02 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BUCH related  that if  the sponsor  was amenable,                                                               
that he would not oppose the change.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON remarked  that he  would  need to  consult with  the                                                               
legislative legal drafters as to the appropriateness.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:07:00 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LINDA  HALL,  Director,  Division  of  Insurance,  explained  the                                                               
history  of the  advisory  committees  on workers'  compensation.                                                               
She related that the committee  members received some letters and                                                               
the sponsor statement  also references an ad hoc  committee.  The                                                               
ad  hoc  committee  produced   numerous  proposals  for  workers'                                                               
compensation reform  in the late 1980s.   The past few  years the                                                               
ad  hoc committee  has had  difficulty in  reaching agreement  to                                                               
address workers'  compensation issues.   When  the MSRC  met this                                                               
summer, it  tried a  different approach to  find ways  to improve                                                               
the  workers'  compensation  system, particularly  since  it  had                                                               
difficulty  in  reaching a  good  outcome.   She  recalled  other                                                               
states  have had  similar  success,  such as  in  Oregon.   While                                                               
Oregon's  committee composition  is a  little different,  some of                                                               
their  members  have  advised the  Alaska  legislature  on  their                                                               
success in working on workers' compensation issues.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:09:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HALL  said that it seemed  to her a body  with some statutory                                                               
authority might  bring a  different level  of credibility  to the                                                               
process.   She  offered her  support for  the composition  of the                                                               
proposed  WCAC and  for  establishing this  type  of an  advisory                                                               
council.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:09:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TRENA  HEIKES,   Director,  Division  of   Workers  Compensation,                                                               
Department of Labor  & Workforce Development, stated  that she is                                                               
also speaking as  Chair of the Medical  Services Review Committee                                                               
(MSRC).   She  stated  the bill  is much  needed.   She  restated                                                               
background  information, relating  that HB  346 came  out of  the                                                               
recommendations made  by the  MSRC.  In  November 2009,  the MSRC                                                               
submitted  its  final  report  to   the  Department  of  Labor  &                                                               
Workforce   Development  (DLWD).      The  MSRC   recommendations                                                               
contained cost containment measures,  as well as recommending the                                                               
creation of  the Workers'  Compensation Advisory  Council (WCAC).                                                               
Since  the mid-1980's  an informal  Workers' Compensation  Ad Hoc                                                               
Committee has  operated in Alaska  in an advisory capacity   This                                                               
"Ad  Hoc"   Committee,  without  any  statutory   authority,  was                                                               
comprised of  representatives from  organized labor and  from the                                                               
Workers'  Compensation Committee  of Alaska  - an  industry group                                                               
organized to lobby for changes  to Alaska's Workers' Compensation                                                               
System.   Thus,  out  of "labor"  and the  WCCA  came the  ad-hoc                                                               
committee, which  was instrumental in effecting  the huge changes                                                               
made to  the Workers' Compensation Act  in 1988.  Since  then the                                                               
committee has  been unable to  achieve any success in  large part                                                               
due  to  inadequate  public  input.   She  surmised  that  likely                                                               
happened due to  the lack of any statutory legitimacy  for the Ad                                                               
Hoc  Committee.   The meetings  were not  public, generally  were                                                               
held  behind closed  doors, and  consequently lack  public input.                                                               
During  her  time  as  a   workers'  compensation  attorney,  she                                                               
assisted in making proposed changes  to the workers' compensation                                                               
laws.   Although little was  accomplished, some of  what surfaced                                                               
got passed into  law since labor and industry  both supported the                                                               
legislation.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:13:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEIKES  offered her belief  that at least  one administration                                                               
ignored  the ad  hoc committee  since  it was  not formalized  in                                                               
statute.  Thus,  the need arose to formalize the  MSRC.  In 2005,                                                               
the  legislature  amended  AS  23.30.095   to  create  a  Medical                                                               
Services Review Committee  to advise the Department  of Labor and                                                               
Workforce  Development's  Commissioner  in the  area  of  medical                                                               
costs and related services in workers' compensation.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEIKES  stated that this  past summer and fall  larger issues                                                               
loomed  and the  MSRC  began  to examine  councils  in ten  other                                                               
Western  states to  view  how their  councils  functioned and  to                                                               
review  their respective  statutes.   She  reiterated Ms.  Hall's                                                               
comments,  that  these  councils  were  comprised  of  labor  and                                                               
management with  the rest acting  in an advisory capacity.   They                                                               
work   very  effectively   in  "drilling   down"  into   workers'                                                               
compensation   issues   and   making   recommendations   to   the                                                               
legislature.  She  thought they were successful  because once the                                                               
issues passed  through the council,  both labor and  industry put                                                               
their  "stamp  of  approval"  on the  issues.    Generally  these                                                               
councils have been  successful, she remarked.   The proposed WCAC                                                               
is most closely based on the  Wisconsin model.  She referred to a                                                               
letter  in members'  packets from  Frances Huntley-Cooper  of the                                                               
International  Association  of  Industrial  Accident  Boards  and                                                               
Commissions   (IAIABC),  describing   how  the   Wisconsin  model                                                               
operates.  The MSRC drew from  that model as well as from Oregon,                                                               
Washington, and Montana, compiling  recommendations that may work                                                               
well in  Alaska.  The intent  of the MSRC was  to gather workers'                                                               
compensation   stakeholders   together   to  analyze   data   and                                                               
information,    discuss   and    debate    options,   and    make                                                               
recommendations  to  transform   Alaska's  Workers'  Compensation                                                               
System into a first-class system.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEIKES  stated that the MSRC  did not want to  include people                                                               
with  a  specific agenda  since  committees  comprised of  single                                                               
agenda members  do not work  well.   Instead, it is  desirable to                                                               
have  people  serve who  possess  a  single  goal of  working  to                                                               
improving the  workers compensation  system, healing  the injured                                                               
worker, and returning the worker to  a productive life as soon as                                                               
possible, to minimize the impact on their lives.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEIKES stated  that under HB 346, the proposed  WCAC would be                                                               
comprised  of  11  voting  and 5  non-voting  members:  4  voting                                                               
members drawn from  organized labor, 4 voting  members drawn from                                                               
various  employer  groups,  and  three voting  members  from  the                                                               
various  medical societies.    Non-voting  members would  provide                                                               
expertise and were  drawn from the insurance industry.   In fact,                                                               
every  council the  MSRC reviewed  had industry  as a  non-voting                                                               
participant.    One  member  from  the DLWD  and  one  from  each                                                               
legislative  body would  also serve  on the  proposed WCAC.   The                                                               
primary  purpose of  legislative membership  would be  to apprise                                                               
the legislature on  matters, such as on issues  being reviewed by                                                               
the WCAC.   She related  the MSRB expressed concern  about voting                                                               
members  and committee  members should  have received  letters to                                                               
that effect.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:17:32 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  HEIKES  related  that  of   the  10  states  examined,  only                                                               
employees  and  employers  were  given a  vote  on  the  council.                                                               
Doctors were members  but were non-voting members.   This bill is                                                               
different,  since the  MSRB  voted  by a  slim  majority to  give                                                               
doctors a vote.  The MSRB  took the view that doctors should have                                                               
a vote since workers' compensation  comes down to a "three-legged                                                               
stool" consisting  of employers,  employees, and doctors,  due to                                                               
the personal injury  aspect.  The MSRC expressed  concern that if                                                               
doctors did  not have a  vote, they would  just not show  up, and                                                               
obtaining their perspective  is important.  She  pointed out that                                                               
the  insurance industry  was  not given  a  vote, although  their                                                               
expert  assistance will  also  be required,  but  no other  state                                                               
council gave them a vote.   She said that they really "don't have                                                               
a dog in  the fight."  She recalled one  MSRB member stating that                                                               
the  industry just  passes the  savings on  to the  system.   She                                                               
remarked that  the insurance industry  also did  not specifically                                                               
request a  vote on the  proposed WCAC.   She concluded  that this                                                               
bill  creates a  WCAC that  has been  needed in  Alaska for  some                                                               
time, and  through the proposed  WCAC, the  state may be  able to                                                               
garner  more  public  input  to a  degree  never  experienced  in                                                               
Alaska.  She urged members to vote in support of HB 346.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:19:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEIKES, in response to Chair  Olson, said she leaves it up to                                                               
the legislature  as to  whether it  wants a  bi-partisan council.                                                               
She stated that  these members really serve as  messengers to the                                                               
legislature to inform them of emerging issues.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON  remarked he is  unaware of any party  affiliation on                                                               
other boards.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. HEIKES  agreed that the  remaining seats are not  examined by                                                               
party affiliation.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:21:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KENTON BRINE, Northwest Regional Manager; Assistant Vice-                                                                       
President,  Property Casualty  Insurance  Association of  America                                                               
(PCI),  thanked  the industry  members  and  the MSRC  for  their                                                               
recommendations.  He stated that  Alaska has the highest workers'                                                               
compensation rate  in the nation,  which is driven in  large part                                                               
by medical  costs.  In  Alaska, medical costs represent  about 72                                                               
percent  of workers'  compensation losses,  in comparison  to the                                                               
national average of 58 percent.   He offered PCI's support for HB
346.  He  suggested the committee may wish to  consider the make-                                                               
up  of the  proposed  council.   The Oregon  system  is a  little                                                               
different, he  stated.  The  Oregon Workers'  Compensation System                                                               
was engaged  in a major overhaul  in 1990.  One  critical outcome                                                               
has  been   that  employers   have  seen   workers'  compensation                                                               
insurance  rates  decline,  in   every  year  except  one,  since                                                               
enactment  of  the laws  about  20  years  ago.   In  comparison,                                                               
Washington  State has  a state  run  monopoly and  the costs  for                                                               
workers'  compensation  and  the  rates paid  by  employers  have                                                               
increased almost  every year.   The  state auditor  predicts that                                                               
without higher  rates or  serious benefit cuts,  the fund  to pay                                                               
for injured  workers will  go broke  in two to  five years.   One                                                               
feature unique  to Oregon  is that its  advisory board,  called a                                                               
Management  Labor  Advisory  Committee  (MLAC),  is  a  10-member                                                               
committee comprised of 5 representatives  of organized labor, and                                                               
5 representatives from management or  the employers.  There is no                                                               
tie-breaking  vote and  no other  entities are  allowed into  the                                                               
advisory committees.   It  is simply "the  two sides  battling it                                                               
out."   He related  that the tacit  agreement by  the legislature                                                               
and  the  governor's office  is  that  unless  a major  piece  of                                                               
legislation  relating   to  Workers'  Compensation   benefits  or                                                               
procedures has  the MLAC seal  of approval, the  legislature will                                                               
not pass it and the governor will not sign it.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:25:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BRINE  continued.  He stated  that this is an  important tool                                                               
to be  certain that fairness is  had in terms of  changing public                                                               
policy related to Workers' Compensation  claims and benefits.  He                                                               
suggested that members consider  balancing out the current makeup                                                               
of the voting  members of the proposed council.   He said he does                                                               
not want to suggest, necessarily  that insurers should have votes                                                               
on proposed  council.  However,  he understood the  rationale for                                                               
the voting and  non-voting members.  He reviewed  the 11 members,                                                               
of which 4  are employers, noting the other 7  members may have a                                                               
different interest,  which might be  to expand benefit  levels to                                                               
injured workers or the amount  of money available for their care.                                                               
He  offered his  belief  that this  may not  have  the effect  of                                                               
lowering  the  ever-increasing  medical  costs.   He  offered  to                                                               
provide  language if  the committee  is interested  in doing  so.                                                               
With   those  changes   to  HB   346,   his  organization   could                                                               
wholeheartedly support the bill.   Otherwise, he said, they would                                                               
have  some concerns,  but would  still like  to see  HB 346  move                                                               
forward.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:27:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
VINCE  BELTRAMI,  President,  American Federation  of  Labor  and                                                               
Congress of  Industrial Organizations  (AFL/CIO), stated  that he                                                               
has served  as one of  the members of the  MSRC for the  past six                                                               
months.  He affirmed the  MSRC's unanimous support to establish a                                                               
Workers'   Compensation  Advisory   Council   (WCAC),  which   is                                                               
relatively consistent with the proposal  contained in HB 346.  He                                                               
stated  that  creation  of  the proposed  WCAC  will  place  into                                                               
statute  a function  that the  Ad Hoc  Committee has  had limited                                                               
success  in performing.   This  proposed WCAC  will resolve  some                                                               
conflicts encountered  in the Ad  Hoc Committee process  and will                                                               
consolidate the  function of the  Ad Hoc Committee and  the MSRC.                                                               
It should streamline issues to have  all the parties at the table                                                               
in  a construct  that  should properly  serve  the two  principal                                                               
interests, the injured workers and  their employers.  This should                                                               
eliminate  some  perceived profit  motive  from  the process,  he                                                               
stated.  The  MSRC reviewed the models from  several other states                                                               
as  Ms.  Heikes mentioned,  and  uses  one  most similar  to  the                                                               
Wisconsin model, which have resulted  in greater efficiencies for                                                               
Workers' Compensation Systems in  other states by reducing costs,                                                               
improving  protection   for  the  injured  worker,   and  setting                                                               
policies to return  workers back to their jobs more  quickly.  He                                                               
agreed with the  basic structure of the composition.   He related                                                               
that the MSRC held considerable  debate on who should have voting                                                               
rights.  One  member from the medical care  providers was adamant                                                               
about doctors having voting rights.   He stated that other states                                                               
had limited their  voting rights, and although  he expressed some                                                               
concern, he offered a willingness  to hear the doctors make their                                                               
case, and  acknowledged that doctors  provide a key  component to                                                               
the system.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:31:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BELTRAMI expressed  concern  with the  language  on page  1,                                                               
lines  9  -  11,  of  HB  346 on  the  make-up  of  the  employer                                                               
representatives.  It  is conceivable that the  oil industry could                                                               
occupy   all  four   employer   positions   since  some   general                                                               
contractors perform  oil field work.   He suggested  amending the                                                               
language to  assure a more  diverse pool  of employers.   He also                                                               
would not object to language  that also diversified the organized                                                               
labor  pool,  as  well,  perhaps a  certain  number  of  building                                                               
trades.  While  he did not object to  partisan representation, he                                                               
thought  since the  legislative representatives  are ex  officio,                                                               
and  provide an  advisory role  to  the legislative  bodies.   He                                                               
strongly  urged   adoption  of  HB  346,   with  some  clarifying                                                               
amendments that  insure Alaska's injured workers  will be treated                                                               
fairly and in the most efficient manner.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:33:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES related that all  of the members except the                                                               
legislators are  appointed by the  DLWD commissioner.   She asked                                                               
whether that was acceptable.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BELTRAMI recalled  some discussion  by the  MSRC.   The MSRC                                                               
thought the appointment process might  be less politicized than a                                                               
Governor's appointment.   He recalled  the MSRC  agreed uniformly                                                               
that the appointment method was adequate.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:34:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PATRICIA  WILSON,  Workers   Compensation  Committee  of  Alaska,                                                               
stated  that  the  committee submitted  written  comments.    She                                                               
offered  that  the  WCCA  does  not  disagree  with  the  council                                                               
approach.  She  related that she spent time at  the MSRC meetings                                                               
this  past  year   and  was  impressed  with   their  report  and                                                               
recommendations.  In workers compensation,  the "players" are the                                                               
employees,  the  injured workers,  and  their  employers.   While                                                               
other parties  with financial interests, ranging  from vocational                                                               
rehabilitation  counselors,  medical  providers,  and  attorneys,                                                               
However,  she  offered her  belief  that  the interested  parties                                                               
should not be  voting members.  Instead, those  with the ultimate                                                               
interest, the  employees and employers, should  be involved since                                                               
they are  directly affected.   She recalled that the  MSRC worked                                                               
on  cost containment  issues with  very  difficult concepts  that                                                               
required outside  expertise and testimony.   This type  of format                                                               
allows  for  subject matter  experts  and  the medical  community                                                               
serves a  valuable role.   However, the voting members  should be                                                               
restricted to  the employers  and the  employees.   She suggested                                                               
that the management  appointments be recommended by  a group that                                                               
can  draw  from a  pool  of  people specifically  experienced  in                                                               
Workers'  Compensation issues,  which is  a fairly  arcane system                                                               
with many nuances.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:38:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OLSON,  after first  determining  no  one else  wished  to                                                               
testify, closed public testimony on HB 346.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLMES removed her objection.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
There being no further objection, Amendment 1 passed.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:39:07 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 4:39 p.m. to 4:43 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:43:51 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OLSON stated the amended bill is now before the committee.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE T. WILSON moved to  report HB 346, as amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying fiscal  notes.  There  being no objection,  the CSHB
346(L&C) was reported from the  House Labor and Commerce Standing                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 4:43 p.m. to 4:47 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:47:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB342 ver A.pdf HL&C 2/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 342
HB342 Sponsor Statement ver A.pdf HL&C 2/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 342
HB342 Legislative Audit Summary.pdf HL&C 2/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 342
HB342-Legislative Audit Report.pdf HL&C 2/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 342
HCR19 AIDEA ppt Testimony.pdf HL&C 2/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HCR 19
HB346 Lettter ASMA 2-22-10.pdf HL&C 2/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 346
HB346 Lettter ASMA 2-24-10.pdf HL&C 2/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 346
HB346 Letter IAIABC 2-23-10.pdf HL&C 2/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 346
HB342 Fiscal Note-CED-CBPL-2-18-10.pdf HL&C 2/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 342
HB346 Letter NFIB 2-17-10.PDF HL&C 2/24/2010 3:15:00 PM
HB 346