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The WSIA Weekly, 6.19.15

Legislature struggles to pass state budget – safety & workers’ comp potentially affected

Although workers’ compensation and workplace safety legislation has been done for quite some time, the Washington State Legislature remains in session, now its second special session, attempting to resolve an impasse over the taxing and spending levels necessary for the state’s next biennial operating budget. Failure to reach a budget agreement by the start of the state’s next fiscal year on July 1 could result in a shutdown of most state government functions. The Governor’s office has begun notifying state agency workers of the possibility of temporary layoffs in that event. According to the state’s Office of Financial Management’s contingency planning, the Department of Labor & Industries would operate on a very limited standby personnel to deal with safety emergencies. Automatic payments for workers’ compensation benefits would continue for the state fund, but new applications for benefits would not be processed. Furthermore, the entire self-insurance section would be on temporary layoff during any shutdown.  According to the Associated Press, state officials still believe they will have a budget deal on time to avoid a shutdown.

 Labor & Industries takes action on regulations

The Department of Labor & Industries took action on a handful of administrative rules of interest this week. Of interest to us, the Department put out notice of its intent to create rules regarding consistent online access to safety and health rules, as well as medical aid rules that will allow the Department to upgrade to the ICD-10 codes for diagnosis and reporting of medical conditions. The Department formally adopted a previously proposed rule upgrading its requirements adopting the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for hazardous materials communication. Earlier this year, WSIA held an online safety seminar on the GHS. Interested members can access that archived presentation by clicking this link.

 WCAC meets next Tuesday

The state’s Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee (WCAC) meets next Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to Noon at the Labor & Industry headquarters in Tumwater. Although an agenda has not been released to the public yet, the meetings are open to the public and interested members are encouraged to attend and participate. The summer meeting usually features updates from the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, a financial update on the State Fund, a legislative update, and presentations on special topics within insurance services including the Department’s preparations for a potential government shutdown, as mentioned above.

 WSIA’s Board of Directors on retreat next week – WSIA Weekly will return 7/10

WSIA’s Board of Directors is holding its annual retreat next Wednesday through Friday, engaging in strategic and policy planning discussions for where WSIA will grow and develop as a membership organization over the next five years. If, as a member, you have any items you would like brought before the Board of Directors for consideration, please e-mail Kris Tefft. Since we’ll be out of the office next Friday, and in honor of the 4th of July holiday the following Friday July 3, the next WSIA Weekly newsletter will issue on July 10.

 See our summertime webinars and events at our Calendar of Events