Although the panel did not act on the measure, the bill remains viable.
The Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) met on April 12 and discussed HF 4026/SF 3943, a League-supported measure aimed at addressing public safety post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) duty disability claims.
The WCAC addresses issues and recommends legislation pertaining to workers’ compensation. The council discussed HF 4026/SF 3943 because, as introduced, the bill would require treatment for PTSD before an employee can file for a duty disability and/or workers’ compensation.
Bill explanations and support
The bill’s chief authors, Rep. Jamie Long (DFL-Minneapolis) and Sen. Jeff Howe (R-Rockville), appeared before the council and explained both the bill as introduced as well as a more recent House version that incorporates stakeholder suggestions and new ideas.
The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust (LMCIT) submitted a letter and provided testimony explaining the need for the legislation and supporting it in concept.
Other groups weighing in with support for the bill included the Association of Minnesota Counties, the Minnesota Inter County Association, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, and the Minnesota Sheriffs’ Association.
Council expresses concerns
Members of the WCAC, made up of six representatives of organized labor and six representatives of business, did not embrace the proposal. And at least one labor representative expressed opposition.
WCAC members’ concerns were mostly around moving too quickly. They expressed a desire to take a longer-term approach to finding solutions to the escalating number of public safety PTSD duty disability claims. The bill authors made it clear they would like to push the measure forward this session.
Workers’ comp must be removed from bill
The chair of the WCAC, Department of Labor and Industry Commissioner Roslyn Robertson, did not call for a vote on the bill. Therefore, the duty disability legislation can advance only if all references to workers’ compensation statutes (Chapter 176) are removed.
The House version of the bill has already been stripped of references to workers’ compensation statutes, and the 32-week treatment window required in the bill would become the administrative responsibility of the Public Employees Retirement Association.
While this version of the bill, if passed, may not yield the immediate impact on PTSD workers’ compensation claims sought by the League and LMCIT, the bill will accomplish the prevention, treatment, and continued health insurance funding goals outlined in the League’s legislative policy.
Your help needed
The League is encouraging city officials to urge legislative support for the bill. The League has a toolkit with resources for members to use when advocating on this legislation.