Legislature(1997 - 1998)

04/06/1998 03:18 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 475 - REHABILITATION OF INJURED WORKERS                                     
Number 0074                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG announced the committee's first order of business            
was HB 475, "An Act establishing a standard for determining when an            
injured worker is eligible for reemployment benefits and                       
establishing a procedure for adopting a new, revised, or                       
replacement standard for determining when an injured worker is                 
eligible for reemployment benefits."  He noted the bill had been               
introduced at the request of his daughter who works for Alaska                 
National Insurance Company; he hopes he does not have a conflict of            
interest there.  Chairman Rokeberg stated, "There is a Senate bill,            
and this is one of the amendments we were talking about on the                 
floor this morning.  However, given that this is very similar to               
the bill that I sponsored in this past last session regarding the              
worker's compensation guide to - to adopt it by statute - it's in              
statute now, we need to update the revised version and provide for             
a mechanism of which to go forward."  He confirmed there was not a             
proposed committee substitute and asked if there were any witnesses            
for HB 475.  The sponsor statement reads:                                      
     This bill encourages government efficiency and allows the                 
     department to stay current when a new or revised edition                  
     of the United States Department of Labor, "Selected                       
     Characteristics of Occupations Defined in the Revised                     
     Dictionary of Occupations Titles" is issued.                              
     The bill gives the board 90 days after the new edition is                 
     published to hold and hearing and adopt the new standard.                 
Number 0220                                                                    
DWIGHT PERKINS, Special Assistant, Office of the Commissioner,                 
Department of Labor (DOL), came forward to testify in support of               
HB 475.  He said Mr. Grossi, the director of the DOL's Division of             
Workers' Compensation, was on teleconference to speak to the bill.             
Mr. Perkins said the department does support the legislation and               
stated, "Thank you for clearing up the request of the introduction             
of the bill.  We saw it on the Senate side, but we were unclear on             
the House side ... we do support it, and you're absolutely right,              
Mr. Chairman, it has to do, similar to the last year legislation               
that you introduced with the workers' comp."                                   
Number 0280                                                                    
PAUL GROSSI, Director, Division of Workers' Compensation,                      
Department of Labor, testified next via teleconference from                    
Anchorage in support of HB 475.  He commented he doesn't know there            
is much more for him to say.  As the chairman mentioned, HB 475 is             
very similar to the bill on the AMA Impairment Rating guides                   
allowing for the automatic adoption by reference of the                        
publication.  He said this deals with rehabilitation issues, to                
physical and mental job requirements.  The bill allows for the                 
automatic adoption without the need for additional legislation or              
regulation, and the department looks at it as a streamlining                   
process.  He stated, "There's not a whole lot more to say about                
that, other than this one took a little bit more thinking about                
because the Department of Labor sometimes doesn't just change the              
edition, they change the title and so on and so forth, but we do               
believe that the way the - this legislation is drafted that it'll              
work just fine."                                                               
Number 0370                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG confirmed with Mr. Grossi that the 1993 edition              
which is the latest edition, would be put in the statute, but the              
provision is provided in Section 2, subsection (q), of the bill for            
the adoption as it is reissued in its subsequent editions ["* Sec.             
2.  AS 23.30.041 is amended by adding a new subsection to read: (q)            
MR. GROSSI answered in the affirmative.                                        
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG said the language in subsection (q) was like the             
language in the guide last year for the public notice and hearings             
to establish the date, so that everyone had ample notice it was                
going to be adopted.                                                           
MR. GROSSI confirmed that was correct.                                         
Number 0414                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if this particular dictionary of                       
occupational titles was in any way controversial within the area of            
workers' compensation.                                                         
MR. GROSSI replied not that he knows of, commenting he has never               
heard that.                                                                    
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if there were two competing publishers with            
similar publications.                                                          
MR. GROSSI said this is published by the United States Department              
of Labor, and he does not believe there is any competitor for this             
particular publication.                                                        
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG said, "Not as we find with the plumbing code, for            
MR. GROSSI answered in the negative.                                           
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG noted Mr. Perkins said the administration                    
department supports this, asking if that was correct.                          
MR. GROSSI answered in the affirmative.                                        
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked if he recalled the age of the existing                 
Number 0486                                                                    
MR. GROSSI said the department is currently using a 1981 edition;              
HB 475 would automatically adopt the most current edition, the 1993            
edition, and allow for adoption of future publications.                        
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG said he suspected there have been a lot of                   
different job categories created in those almost 17 years.                     
MR. GROSSI said that was correct, commenting there have been                   
changes in the existing jobs.                                                  
Number 0525                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE TOM BRICE asked Mr. Grossi what this dictionary is              
specifically, requesting he expand a bit.                                      
MR. GROSSI replied it basically describes the physical and mental              
requirements of a job, and allows an administrator or adjudicator              
to determine what would be the appropriate retraining plan.                    
REPRESENTATIVE BRICE said, then, it basically sets out the                     
requirements of somebody's job prior to an injury and whether or               
not that person is capable of fulfilling those duties again after              
an injury.                                                                     
MR. GROSSI answered that was correct.                                          
Number 0595                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN COWDERY said he wasn't sure if this was a                  
related question but would like to receive an answer at some point.            
He asked "Say, in a scenario where you have -- the main wage earner            
of a family gets injured substantially, and say is recouping for a             
year or two after the injury, and say one member of his family say             
falls out of a tree or something and breaks an arm ... 18 months               
after his injury, is that child, since he's been on workman's comp             
or injured, is he - that child covered (indisc.) injury?"                      
Number 0647                                                                    
MR. GROSSI indicated the question was not really relevant to                   
HB 475, but added the child would not be covered through the                   
workers' compensation insurance policy.  He stated, "It would                  
depend on whether the person had a ... health insurance policy that            
covered the child."                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE COWDERY indicated he would pursue an answer further.            
Number 0694                                                                    
CHARLIE MILLER, Lobbyist for Alaska National Insurance Company,                
came forward to testify in support of HB 475.  He said the bill was            
similar to the one the previous year that satisfies the public                 
notice requirement for the new editions, and puts in the 1993                  
edition by statute so it does not have to go through that process              
for this transfer.  Mr. Miller stated Alaska National Insurance                
Company supports HB 475, indicating he cannot see any reason why               
the most up-to-date edition should not be used.  He said the                   
company does not have any problems with the bill.  The only concern            
last year was that the company have sufficient time to make the                
transfer; he said the 90 days seems adequate to the people in the              
company he has talked to.  Mr. Miller confirmed that, because there            
is no effective date, it would take place in 90 days, giving the               
company the same 90-day period to make sure it had the editions in             
CHAIRMAN ROKEBERG asked Mr. Miller if he wanted a more immediate               
effective date.                                                                
MR. MILLER said they think the 90 days is adequate to get editions             
and get their people "on board" with the new edition.                          
Number 0790                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOE RYAN made a motion to move HB 475 out of                    
committee with the attached committee zero fiscal note and                     
individual recommendations.  There being no objections, it was so              

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