Along with undertaking standard agency reviews of three state agencies at its Nov. 7, 2017, meeting, the Economic Affairs Interim Committee (EAIC) will begin work on two of its three assigned studies. The EAIC will devote a full day on Nov. 8 to the third study, which is on workers’ compensation. The meetings will be in Room 137 of the State Capitol.
As part of the interim committee process between legislative sessions, the EAIC will get budget updates and hear about upcoming activities from representatives of the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture and from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. The EAIC has monitoring responsibility for nine units of state government tied to various industries.
The committee will also hear Nov. 7 from a Department of Labor and Industry economist about how unemployment data may differ, depending on whether the data include people who are unemployed and want work but are discouraged about prospects in their area. The unemployment study under Senate Joint Resolution 20 is designed to highlight issues impacting high poverty areas of the state, where the state’s average low unemployment of 3.9% as of September 2017 masks the unemployment picture in such areas as the Northern Cheyenne reservation, which had a September 2017 unemployment rate of 12.6%.
Another study to be launched Nov. 7, SJR 32, relates to whether emergency care providers’ duties can be expanded to include community care, including helping veterans in various ways but particularly to help decrease the potential for veteran suicide. A panel presentation will feature those involved in licensing emergency medical technicians as well as those who work with veterans and a representative of dispatchers, who are called on to initiate emergency responses.
On Nov. 8 the EAIC will convene as a subcommittee to study workers’ compensation and, in particular, the future of Montana State Fund, which serves as an insurer of last resort in the state. In addition to representatives of workers’ compensation insurers and of employers required to provide workers’ compensation insurance, SJR 27 presentations will feature national experts asked to discuss how other states make sure workers’ compensation is available when required.
The meeting Nov. 7 will start at 10 a.m. The Nov. 8 meeting will start at 8 a.m. Public comment will be provided at various times. Public comment guidelines are on the committee website. The meeting will be live streamed at http://leg.mt.gov and will be broadcast on Television Montana (TVMT). Local channel listings for TVMT may be found here. For more information about the meeting, including full agendas, visit the committee’s website or contact Pat Murdo, committee staff.