WSIA Weekly, 1.23.15
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Here are this week's top items:
Greetings from Winter West!
Betsy Reeves with Reeves Shima shares a laugh with Winter West attendees while presenting the "Best of 2014" during this morning's legal update.
About 100 of your fellow WSIA members converged on the Inn at Gig Harbor today for our Winter West conference, networking and listening to a number of presentations on recent laws and regulatory moves, as well as aspects of disability prevention and claims management strategy. A special thanks to today's attendees, as well as Platinum sponsor MedPlus Health Solutions, Gold sponsor HearPO, exhibitors Medical Consultants Network, Objective Medical Assessments Corp., and Miles Investigations, and facilitators (our very own) Patrick Koenig and REI's Misty Hardie. If you missed it, save the date for our spring conference, March 20th at Valley Medical Center in Renton!
Legislative session heating up
Set against a backdrop of tax & fiscal policy disputes, transportation needs and environmental policy, we've commented that workers' compensation may not have as much play in 2015. Nearly twenty new workers' comp bills were introduced in week two of the session, however, and we're now tracking 25 workers' comp bills, two workplace safety bills, and 26 other labor committee bills like minimum wage increases, mandatory paid sick days, and paid family and medical leave insurance, to name a few. Important WSIA priorities like addressing the complexity of the benefit calculation (SB 5510), tightening occupational disease coverage (SB 5509), expanding structured settlements (SB 5513), and fixing a third party recovery issue (SB 5508) have been introduced and are heading for public hearing in the Senate the first week of February.
Adverse bills so far include a proposed expansion of the firefighter's occupational disease presumption to EMTs and fire inspectors (HB 1602, 1603), an attorney's fee bill for claimants at the board (HB 1611), and a penalty expansion on self-insureds for benefits on appeal (HB 1612). We'll be working with legislators to explain why these would be bad policies to adopt for Washington. We also plan on testifying next Tuesday afternoon in the House Labor Committee with concerns about HB 1194, creating inequity in the system by granting a unique privilege to only the surviving spouses of law enforcement officers and firefighters to receive a lifetime pension without regard to remarriage.
Our Legislative Committee members are receiving weekly updates and bill tracking sheets by e-mail, along with requests for involvement in legislative hearings and other action items. You can follow a weekly summary of the legislative updates at this link (member login req'd), and if the topic interests you, join our Legislative Committee.
Last chance to RSVP for Jan. 27th regional meeting
WSIA's first 2015 regional meeting is next Tuesday. This complimentary educational and networking opportunity is taking place on January 27th from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Group Health's Tukwila location, and features WSIA members Jan Donley, Cloie Johnson, and Lisa Vivian as guest presenters. Jan and Cloie will be training on new advancements in the labor market survey (LMS) methodology for vocational rehabilitation employability assessments, and Lisa will be training on L&I's audit reform initiative and recent penalty rulemaking. Further details are on the website, and RSVPs can be made through Monday by e-mail to Kari Heinold.