Council on Worker's Compensation
    Meeting Minutes
    Madison, Wisconsin
    March 14, 2001

    Members present: Mr. Bagin, Mr. Buchen, Ms. Coakley, Mr. Glaser, Mr. Gleichert, Mr. Grassl, Mr. Muelver, Mr. Newby, Ms. Norman-Nunnery, Mr. Olson, Ms. Vetter, Mr. Welnak.

    Staff present: Mr. Conway, Mr. O’Malley, Mr. Shorey, Mr. Smith.

    Liaison present: Mr. Leonard, Ms. O'Connor

    1. Minutes. Ms. Norman-Nunnery convened the meeting in accordance with Wisconsin’s open meetings law. Mr. Muelver moved adoption of minutes of the February 28, 2001 meeting. Mr. Bagin seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

    2. Legislative Update.

    AB 111/SB 9 relating to UCC revision and assignment of benefits. Mr. Smith said these companion bills enact model legislation to update the Uniform Commercial Code. Each state is attempting to enact the new code with a uniform effective date of July 1, 2001. The State Bar Association requested the legislation and it would be scheduled for final floor votes in the Assembly and Senate within the next two weeks.

    Revised Article 9 defines a new sub-category of general intangible, a "payment intangible," that would override any contractual or statutory restriction on the assignment or sale of a payment intangible. People disagree about whether certain exclusions from a "payment intangible" exclude worker's compensation. The effect on the prohibition against the assignment of benefits in s. 102.27, Wis. Stats., is not clear. The State Bar said it is not their intention to override s. 102.27 and they agreed to work with the Department to amend the bill to the satisfaction of the Council.

    Mr. Glaser moved that the Department be authorized to work with the State Bar and the Legislative Reference Bureau to draft an amendment to Section 9-109(d)(3) that will exclude worker's compensation and retain the prohibition against the assignment of worker's compensation benefits. Mr. Bagin seconded the motion. In discussing the motion, Mr. Glaser said that the Department's proposed language, or some reasonable variation, would be acceptable. He understood there would no further opportunity for Council review because the bill would pass the Legislature before the next Council meeting. The motion passed unanimously.

    AB 191 and 192. Mr. Smith said the Department is monitoring these proposals relating to the privacy of medical records.

    3. Safety Investigations. Mr. Conway summarized six alternatives for restoring safety investigations: (1) attempt to restore the investigations in the Wisconsin Department of Commerce; (2) OSHA; (3) WMC-Wisconsin Council on Safety; (4) Worker's Compensation Division; (5) Department of Health and Family Services; (6) private consultants. He estimated the cost would be around $250,000 to provide an acceptable level of service.

    He said until an alternative was developed, the Division was considering a letter to up to 500 employees a year (of the 55,000 reported injuries) advising them of a possible safety violation and how they might pursue that issue without assistance from the Department of Commerce. He said the letter would only go to employees with reported injuries that, in the past, the Division would have referred to the Department of Commerce for possible investigation. Ms. Coakley, Mr. Gleichert and Mr. Bagin said the letter was not a good idea. Mr. Newby said he didn't want to debate the letter. He also suggested that the Division conduct investigations with about 3 well-trained staff. Ms. Nunnery agreed the Department would not send a letter. Mr. Gleichert suggested talking to Secretary Blanchard. Mr. Buchen suggested that Mr. Newby, Mr. Buchen and Secretary Reinert discuss the issue with Commerce Secretary Brenda Blanchard. Ms. Nunnery agreed to arrange the meeting.

    4. Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau's proposal to prevent corporate officers subject to the federal Longshoremen's Act or Jones Act. Attorney Paul Reigel said he was sorry he was unable to attend the prior meeting when the Rating Bureau's proposal was first discussed. He briefly reviewed the proposal and responded to questions. Ms. Coakley said she was opposed to the proposal to prevent certain officers from opting out of coverage even if was not a financially smart thing for them to do. She said that the provision reached too far.

    5. The security of the Department's Internet transactions with insurers. In October, as part of a discussion of on-line internet access to claims data by insurers, Mr. Glaser had requested a briefing on the extent to which the Department's system is secure. Ms. Arlys Nilles and her staff explained an impressive and extensive set of security protections built into the system.

    6. Farewell roast and toast to Mr. Grassl. Council members and staff thanked Don for his many years of service on the Council and wished him a wonderful retirement.

    7. Adjournment. The meeting adjourned to the next scheduled meeting, April 19th, in Madison.