The State Legislature’s budget-writing committee voted Wednesday to keep the administrative functions of the state’s Worker’s Compensation (WC) program at the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The Joint Committee on Finance’s (JCF) action modified Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to move WC to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. The Wisconsin Medical Society joined with other health care liaisons to the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) in opposing the move, citing the tremendous success of the WC program under its current organization.
The JFC also modified Gov. Walker’s proposal to merge the WC program’s Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) into the Department of Administration’s Division of Hearings and Appeals (DHA). Rather than DHA simply absorbing the ALJs, the JFC required that a minimum of 18 ALJs transferred to DHA would concentrate at least 80 percent of their time on worker’s compensation disputes. JFC also kept six ALJs and two legal support staff at DWD to foster mediation of cases.
Both items were part of a larger omnibus motion taken up by the JFC. (See item 14 in Motion 509.) The committee is expected to finish its work in the next week; the full State Assembly and State Senate will then vote on the budget before sending it to Gov. Walker for his signature and possible vetoes. The budget takes effect on July 1, 2015.
Contact Mark Grapentine, JD, in the Society’s Government and Legal Affairs Department for more information.
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