News from Washington's Workers' Comp & Workplace Safety Association
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WSIA Weekly, 2.27.15

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Top News
Therese Baxter appointed interim WSIA President
Following last week's announcement that outgoing WSIA president Donna Egeland had accepted Governor Jay Inslee's appointment as the next Ombuds for injured workers of self-insured employers, the WSIA executive committee appointed Therese Baxter, Workers' Compensation Manager for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners, as WSIA's interim president. Therese, who served as association president from 2006-07, and on our board as past president since 2013, brings a tremendous amount of passion and experience to the volunteer leadership of WSIA. She'll serve through the election of new board members and officers at our association's annual business meeting May 7th. Congratulations, Therese!

Legislation advances to shift L&I penalties in employer appeals
During yesterday's meeting of the Senate Rules Committee, Senate Bill 5507, sponsored by Sen. John Braun, R-Chehalis, was made eligible for further consideration by the full Senate. SB 5507 provides that if an employer successfully appeals a penalty order imposed by Labor & Industries at the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals or in court, then L&I must pay the employer an amount equal to the penalty the employer challenged, as well as the employer's reasonable costs and attorney's fees. The bill is in part a response to a constituent issue brought forward to Sen. Braun by a local family whose hobby activity -- auto racing -- was heavily and ultimately erroneously, penalized by the Department for workers' comp fraud, an ordeal that possibly crashed a young racer's promising career. You can read about that situation, and the public hearing on SB 5507, in this recent article from the Olympian.

Labor & Industries return-to-work legislative proposal clears cutoff
Also yesterday, House Bill 1496, sponsored by Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, passed an important legislative deadline, receiving a vote of the House Appropriations Committee, sending it closer to consideration by the full House of Representatives. HB 1496 is L&I's proposal expanding the state fund preferred worker program with monetary incentives, as well as making permanent changes to the vocational rehabilitation statute, including expanded "Option 2" benefits and a cap on annual inflationary increases in the tuition benefit. WSIA's Legislative Committee Chair, Lori Daigle of Sellen Construction, and member Terry Peterson of Comprehensive Risk Management helped successfully negotiate the vocational rehabilitation components of HB 1496. 

For more legislative session news, check out our weekly legislative update and bill tracking sheet by clicking here (member login required - e-mail us if you've forgotten it).

Don't Miss!

WSIA Spring Conference registrations picking upAmplifon logo
Our spring conference, "Keeping it Real: Managing Medical Conditions in the Workplace," sponsored by Amplifon Hearing Health Care, is coming up March 20th at Valley Medical Center in Renton. This daylong networking and continuing education opportunity focuses on medical management of workplace injuries and prevention of long term disability, drawing on various medical and claims management strategies and experts. View the agenda and more information by clicking here, and register for the conference by clicking here

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