Legislature(1993 - 1994)
03/16/1993 03:00 PM L&C
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 203 - ADMINISTRATIVE FEE FOR WORKERS' COMP. CHAIRMAN HUDSON noted that at the last meeting there were deep concerns from the community as to the effects of HB 203. Chairman Hudson believed that the committee should come up with a measure that would be both constructive as well as satisfy the reasons why this bill was drafted in the first place. Number 137 PAUL ARNOLDT, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, stated that as a result of the last committee hearing, he met with some of the members of the industry on this issue. At that meeting, the group discussed the major issues facing workers' compensation and how it affects business; the fact that there is a shortage of funding; what alternatives for funding exist, etc. MR. ARNOLDT said it was his understanding that the representatives of business left the meeting with the charge that they contact their constituency and get a consensus on where the members stood on the various issues. Unfortunately, the time frame was too short to allow that sort of extensive polling before today's meeting. MR. ARNOLDT discussed further the ramifications of the underfunding of the Division of Workers' Compensation. Number 269 JERRY REINWAND, ALASKA TIMBER INSURANCE EXCHANGE, testified in opposition to any fee increases on business. Mr. Reinwand further stated that he believes the division has a budget problem that needs to be addressed through the general fund, but not on the backs of business by means of a tax of any other increase. FORMER REPRESENTATIVE DAVID THOMPSON, ALASKA CENTER FOR DEAF AND BLIND ADULTS, testified in support of more funding for the Division of Workers' Compensation. Number 331 RESA JERREL, NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS (NFIB), testified that 92 percent of the members of NFIB are opposed to increasing the fees business has to pay for workers' compensation. Number 389 CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated that it was not his intention to move HB 203 out of committee today. The Chairman's intention was to address what the original purpose of the bill was to find a mechanism whereby industry could help locate indiscriminate spending or improper spending. Otherwise, if adequate force is absent, industry will have to pay more and more in claims. Number 408 JAY FRANK, STATE FARM INSURANCE AND ALLSTATE INSURANCE, echoed comments by Ms. Jerrel in opposition to HB 203. Number 420 JOHN GEORGE, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT INSURERS, also echoed the comments of Mr. Jerrel and Mr. Frank. Mr. George believes it was appropriate to look at which services the division is providing that are deserving of funding and which are not. Mr. George said he plans on asking his industry to help home prioritize the services provided by the division. Number 444 CHAIRMAN HUDSON noted that there is a tremendous amount of workmen's compensation fraud happening across the nation. Number 457 JOE POOR, JUNEAU CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, testified that anytime you add cost for doing business in Juneau it hurts the economy. He further stated that workers' compensation is the most expensive part of doing business. Mr. Poor stated his opposition to HB 203. Number 570 CHAIRMAN HUDSON again stated that this bill was an attempt to open the lines of communication between business, the insurance industry, and government in an attempt to help government streamline its programs and help make the business climate more favorable especially in light of the economy. It is not the wishes of the chairman to simply raise the costs of doing business in the state. CHAIRMAN HUDSON adjourned the meeting at 5:15 p.m.