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SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 15
INTRODUCED BY F. THOMAS, S. BARTLETT, D. BERRY, V. COCCHIARELLA, A. ELLIS, T. KEATING, B. KEENAN, W. MCNUTT, B. WILSON
BY REQUEST OF THE SENATE LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT RELATIONS STANDING COMMITTEE
A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA REQUESTING THAT THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL DIRECT THE APPROPRIATE INTERIM COMMITTEE TO STUDY THE CURRENT LEVEL OF BENEFITS PAID TO INJURED WORKERS UNDER THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION ACT AND THE FREQUENCY OF INDEMNITY CLAIMS UNDER THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION ACT; AND REQUIRING A REPORT OF THE FINDINGS OF THE STUDY AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE 57TH LEGISLATURE.
WHEREAS, since 1993, Montana's workers' compensation premium rates have decreased at a far greater pace than in the surrounding region and loss costs have been reduced by 46% since 1994; and
WHEREAS, despite the reduction in premium rates, Montana's average loss cost rates are currently 195% of the average in the region, which includes the states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, and Utah; and
WHEREAS, because Montana has one of the lowest average weekly wage levels in the region, the state's maximum permanent partial weekly benefit of $205.50 is the lowest maximum indemnity benefit amount in the region; and
WHEREAS, despite the lowest maximum permanent partial indemnity benefit level in the region, Montana pays out 86% of the regional claim payment average for each 100,000 workers; and
WHEREAS, although the frequency of permanent partial claims has decreased from 1,468 for each 100,000 workers in 1994 to 832 for each 100,000 workers in 1996, the frequency of these claims is approximately twice the regional average of 473 for each 100,000 workers; and
WHEREAS, the high frequency of claims, especially for permanent partial injury claims, may be directly related to the facts that Montana's economy is more concentrated in higher hazard employments, that the Montana economy provides fewer opportunities for alternative work or light duty once a worker is injured, and that Montana has the highest percentage of individuals holding multiple jobs, making reemployment after an injury at the same wage levels less likely.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
(1) That the appropriate interim committee study the current workers' compensation benefit levels for permanent total, permanent partial, and temporary total indemnity claims and the frequency of claims for each lost time claim.
(2) That the appropriate interim committee provide a report to the 57th Legislature of the committee's recommendations on whether any adjustment of workers' compensation benefit levels is advisable and its recommendations for reducing the frequency of all injury claims, with particular focus on reducing the high number of permanent partial indemnity claims.
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Latest Version of SJ 15 (SJ0015.ENR)
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