The Bottom Line: State workers’ comp, pension, workforce dollars transparency bills passes through House committee

By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line

Rep. Adam Koenig testified in favor of his bill, House Bill 296, alongside Kentucky Chamber Public Affairs Director Kate Shaks and Paige Mankovich of Kentucky Employers' Mutual Insurance.
Rep. Adam Koenig testified in favor of his bill, House Bill 296, alongside Kentucky Chamber Public Affairs Director Kate Shaks and Paige Mankovich of Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance.

Legislation on the workers’ compensation system in Kentucky passed the House Economic Development and Workforce Development Committee Thursday.

In explaining House Bill 296, bill sponsor Rep. Adam Koenig said the workers’ compensation system is complex and needs to be updated, which he says this bill does.

This legislation is necessary in order to become the manufacturing hub of the country, Koenig said.

Kentucky Chamber Public Affairs Director Kate Shanks said the legislation represents an opportunity for Kentucky to improve its competitiveness relative to other states in terms of attracting and retaining businesses.

“We’ve spent several months working with a strong coalition of partners to assist Rep. Koenig and primary co-sponsor Rep. Rowland with crafting legislation that will drive down employers’ cost, improve injured workers’ access to care, and return injured workers to work more quickly,” Shanks said.

House Bill 296 would:

• Clarify that the limitation on reopening claims already in Kentucky’s law will be applied
• Set appropriate limits for filing claims on injuries identified years after exposure
• Ensure the proper standard of care through treatment guidelines
• Address the state’s opioid addiction problem through formulary guidelines
• Encourage employers to bring workers back to work quickly
• Establish appropriate durations of payment of medical claims

House Bill 296 now moves to the full house for a vote on the floor.

Key pension measure moves forward

A bill to bring more transparency and oversight to the state’s retirement systems now heads for its final legislative hurdle after passing out of the House State Government Committee Thursday.

Senate Bill 2, sponsored by Public Pension Oversight Board co-chair Sen. Joe Bowen, would bring more transparency and oversight to the state’s retirement systems by making changes to board structures including gubernatorial appointments and requiring the systems to follow KRS Chapter 45A, the model procurement code, with a new compromise made with the systems that exempts their investment contracts.

Other changes to the three retirement systems, Kentucky Retirement System (KRS), Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System (KTRS) and the Judicial Retirement System, include:

• Disclosure of fees and contracts
• Added levels of investment experience requirements to serve on the boards of the systems
• Prohibiting the use of placement agents by the systems
• Confirmation of appointments by the Senate
• Uniform methods of reporting and disclosing investment fees
• Expanding legislative membership on the Public Pension Oversight Board

The Kentucky Chamber is a strong supporter of Senate Bill 2 and other legislation to bring more transparency and accountability to the pension systems as the state seeks to solve the issues of the underfunded systems.

Senate Bill 2 now moves to the full House for a vote on the floor.

Bipartisan bill to bring transparency to workforce dollars passes

Legislation to bring more oversight and transparency to the state’s area development districts, entities using state and federal dollars on aging programs and employment services, passed the House State Government Committee unanimously on Thursday.

House Bill 189, co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim DeCesare of Bowling Green and Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom of Lexington, seeks to place more accountability on the spending and programming of the state’s 15 area development districts (ADDs) and require additional financial reporting. The bill also brings the ADDs under the same oversight rules that have long governed other state agencies and local governments.

The transparency legislation contains provisions to:

• Ban bonuses or any other one-time payments to any ADD employee.
• Protect “whistleblowers” in accordance with state law.
• Require advertising of an open executive director position with adequate notice and sufficient time for interested candidates to apply.
• Require the ADDs to follow federal and state procurement statutes and regulations.
• Require review of all 15 ADDs within the next four years, to determine if their policies and internal controls are adequate. Further examinations would follow if necessary.

In her remarks during the House State Government Committee meeting Thursday, Rep. Westrom thanked the work of the Kentucky Chamber and other groups on this issue.

House Bill 189 now heads to the full House for a vote on the floor.


 

 

For more state government news go to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s The Bottom Line blog.

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