NEW BILL IS FIRST STEP TOWARDS FEDERALIZATION OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION
Democratic Congressman Joe Baca from California has introduced a bill to the 111th Congress hoping to establish a commission to evaluate state workers’ compensation laws. The commission will be called the "National Commission on State Workers’ Compensation Laws". The main objective of this commission will be to determine the adequacy of each states current workers’ compensation laws and make recommendations for improvement based on their finding. While this is the stated objective, it is interesting to note that the bill itself actually states that the current state systems are inadequate. The commission will hold hearings, take testimony and receive evidence as part of the investigation. The commission will issue a final report within 18 months stating what changes they feel will benefit state law and will terminate within 19 days after the issuance of this report. The commission will consist of 14 members including the Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Health and Human Services and Secretary of Education along with other appointees. Of the 14 members 3 will represent injured workers, 3 will represent insurance carriers and employers and 1 will represent the general public. There has not been a commission of this kind formed to review state workers’ compensation laws in over 30 years since the Nixon administration formed such a commission in 1972.
My Two Cents: It comes as no surprise that the only groups who took part in writing and who provided input for this bill are comprised of plaintiff attorneys. This would appear to be the first step towards federalization of workers' compensation.