Legislature(2019 - 2020)ADAMS 519

02/27/2020 01:30 PM FINANCE

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Heard & Held
HOUSE BILL NO. 30                                                                                                             
     "An Act  relating to the exclusiveness  of liability of                                                                    
     an  employer in  the  case of  death;  relating to  the                                                                    
     payment of  workers' compensation benefits in  the case                                                                    
     of permanent partial impairment;  relating to notice of                                                                    
     workers' compensation  death benefits; relating  to the                                                                    
     payment   of  workers'   compensation  death   benefits                                                                    
     payable to  a child  of an employee  where there  is no                                                                    
     surviving spouse;  relating to the payment  of workers'                                                                    
     compensation death  benefits for an employee  without a                                                                    
     surviving  spouse  or  child;   and  providing  for  an                                                                    
     effective date."                                                                                                           
2:52:54 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair   Foster   MOVED   to  ADOPT   proposed   committee                                                                    
substitute  for   HB  30,  Work  Draft   31-LS0280\R  (Marx,                                                                    
Co-Chair Johnston OBJECTED for discussion.                                                                                      
2:53:43 PM                                                                                                                    
ERIN   SHINE,  STAFF,   REPRESENTATIVE  JENNIFER   JOHNSTON,                                                                    
reported   that   she   had   worked   with   Representative                                                                    
Josephson's  staff  to  produce  the version  of  the  draft                                                                    
Committee Substitute  (CS). She reviewed the  changes in the                                                                    
CS.  She reported  that on  page 1,  lines 1  through 5  the                                                                    
title was changed to reflect the  changes in the CS. On page                                                                    
1, line 7,  Section 1, the prior Section 1  was removed that                                                                    
included the  short title  of the  bill. She  explained that                                                                    
new  Section  1  included  all  new  language  and  added  a                                                                    
requirement  for notification  of workers  at time  of hire.                                                                    
The  notification    described  the  compensation  generally                                                                    
available  and  specifically   required  that  employees  be                                                                    
informed about  compensation available in the  case of death                                                                    
for  workers  who  are   unmarried  and  lacked  dependents.                                                                    
Section   3  included   2  edits   of  conforming   language                                                                    
corresponding to changes in other  sections in the bill. She                                                                    
noted that  new Section  4 eliminated  AS 23.30.215  (a) and                                                                    
created a  new subsection (j)  on line 9 that  contained the                                                                    
following conforming language:                                                                                                  
       continues until the child reaches the 23 years of                                                                        
     age unless extended                                                                                                        
Ms. Shine read the prior language as follows:                                                                                   
       shall terminate five years after the person is no                                                                        
     longer considered a child                                                                                                  
Ms.  Shine concluded  that the  effective  date was  changed                                                                    
from January 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021.                                                                                        
Co-Chair  Johnston WITHDREW  her OBJECTION.  There being  NO                                                                    
OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                                   
2:56:18 PM                                                                                                                    
ELISE  SORUM-BIRK,  STAFF,  REPRESENTATIVE  ANDY  JOSEPHSON,                                                                    
addressed  the current  version of  the bill.  She explained                                                                    
that  the  bill  updated the  permanent  partial  impairment                                                                    
rates and the language had not  changed in the CS. The rates                                                                    
had not  been adjusted since  2000. The state was  ranked as                                                                    
one  of  the  lowest  in  the  country  regarding  permanent                                                                    
partial impairment rates. She pointed  to page 2, line 15 of                                                                    
the CS  and noted  that the impairment  rate rose  from $177                                                                    
thousand to  $255 thousand, which  was the  national average                                                                    
rate. She reported that new  Section 1 required notification                                                                    
of employees  regarding death  benefits. She  indicated that                                                                    
the original bill  added a death benefit  for single workers                                                                    
and recalled  that the issue  was discussed in  committee in                                                                    
the prior session.  The provision was withdrawn  from the CS                                                                    
due to  philosophical  issues  among some committee members.                                                                    
She relayed  that Representative Josephson felt  that it was                                                                    
imperative   that  employees   were   made   aware  of   the                                                                    
disparities  between the  amount a  single childless  worker                                                                    
would  receive in  death benefits  versus  a married  worker                                                                    
with  dependents.  She  cited  an  additional  provision  in                                                                    
Section  3 regarding  death benefits,  which  stated that  a                                                                    
personal  representative of  a  deceased  employee would  be                                                                    
notified regarding available benefits.  She moved to Section                                                                    
4 and  related that the  provision pertained to  orphans who                                                                    
were parentless.  She recounted that an  issue regarding the                                                                    
definition  of   child   arose in  the  prior  session.  The                                                                    
current version of  the bill allowed for  benefits until the                                                                    
age of  23. Therefore, an  orphaned child would  continue to                                                                    
receive death benefits until 23 years of age.                                                                                   
3:00:21 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Knopp  inquired whether the  orphaned childs                                                                     
age  limit  was  specified  in the  prior  legislation.  Ms.                                                                    
Sorum-Burke replied  that a specific  age was  not provided.                                                                    
However,  the   provision  stated  that  if   a  person  was                                                                    
attending college  full-time, they  were still  considered a                                                                    
child. She remarked that the  language created a  gray area                                                                     
that the  sponsor was  not comfortable  with. Representative                                                                    
Knopp clarified  that the change  meant the  benefits ceased                                                                    
at  the age  of 23  regardless  of what  the individual  was                                                                    
doing. Ms.  Sorum-Burke articulated that the  reason for the                                                                    
age 23  was that an  individual might still be  dependent on                                                                    
their family. She  provided an example of a  young person in                                                                    
the  military whose  parents died  and would  not receive  a                                                                    
benefit.  Representative Knopp  wondered what  the allowable                                                                    
extension  under   AS  23.30.395(8)  was.   Ms.  Sorum-Burke                                                                    
responded that  it applied to children  with intellectual or                                                                    
physical disabilities considered a dependent.                                                                                   
Representative Carpenter asked  for clarification on Section                                                                    
1.  He  ascertained  that  the   employer  must  notify  the                                                                    
employee  of the  death benefits  available  for single  and                                                                    
married employees.  He asked if  he was correct.  Ms. Sorum-                                                                    
Burke responded that his  assessment was generally accurate.                                                                    
She   delineated  that   an  equal   protection  issue   was                                                                    
discovered  while drafting  the legislation.  Therefore, all                                                                    
employees regardless of their  marital status had to receive                                                                    
notification  concerning  single  and  childless  employees                                                                     
benefits. Representative Carpenter  was trying to understand                                                                    
the reason for the notification.                                                                                                
3:03:39 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Josephson  provided the example of  a 19 year                                                                    
old man  working in  Prudhoe Bay without  a wife  and family                                                                    
who died  on the  job. He indicated  that under  current law                                                                    
nothing was available  to the worker, even if  his death was                                                                    
due to gross  negligence on the employer's  part. The family                                                                    
had no recourse;  they could not sue the  employer nor could                                                                    
they  collect   workers   compensation.  He   believed  that                                                                    
notification  would  provide  the   worker  the  insight  to                                                                    
purchase life  insurance. He  added that  the intent  was to                                                                    
provide  notice to  the  workers that   they  were on  their                                                                    
Co-Chair Johnston would be setting the bill aside.                                                                              
HB  30  was   HEARD  and  HELD  in   committee  for  further                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 30 Explanation of Changes ver. R 2.27.2020.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 30
HB 30 Maximum Benefit for PPI by State - Workers' Compensation Research Institute 1.29.20.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 30
HB 30 ProPublica Graphic - Alaska v National Average 1.29.20.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 30
HB 30 ProPublica Graphic - How Much is a Limb Worth 1.29.20.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 30
HB 30 ver. R 1.31.20.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 30
HB 102 TuroLetterFebruary 022720.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 102
HB 79 Explantion of Changes ver O 2.27.2020.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 79
HB 79 Sectional Analysis ver O 2.27.2020.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 79
HB 79 Presentation Explanation of Changes Ver U to Ver O 2.27.2020.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 79
HB 79 ver. O 2.27.2020.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 79
HB 30 Letter of Support NEA.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 30
HB 102 State by State Comp 021020.pdf HFIN 2/27/2020 1:30:00 PM
HB 102