August 09, 2005
Alaska Governor Frank H. Murkowski signed into law the most comprehensive reform of the Alaska Workers' Compensation Act since statehood following a speech to the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce in Anchorage today. In addition, the governor signed two bills important to small business.
Senate Bill 130, which was submitted by request of the governor, makes significant changes in the state's workers' compensation system in an effort to arrest escalating insurance costs and to encourage greater insurer participation in Alaska's workers' compensation market.
The new law establishes a Workers' Compensation Appeals Commission made up of individuals experienced in workers' compensation issues to resolve appeals from the Workers' Compensation Board formerly heard by state superior courts.
SB 130 also reforms the standard
for determining when an employer must pay an injured worker and
establishes a fraud investigation section, administrative fines
for uninsured employers and a Benefit Guaranty Fund that uses
those fines to pay benefits to injured workers.
"Alaska's Workers Compensation premiums are the second highest in the nation and we have seen businesses close and still other businesses elect not to hire new workers as a result," Murkowski said. "This state sorely needed a means to control these costs and this bill begins the process."
Governor Murkowski also signed
two small business bills into law. House Bill 33, sponsored by
Rep. Kevin Meyer, is intended to mitigate excessive state regulations
affecting small business. House Bill 182, sponsored by Rep. Norman
Rokeberg, amends Alaska's Wage and Hour Act to make it more consistent
with the overtime provisions adopted by the Bush Administration.
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