Summary of 1995 Wisconsin Act 117

Effective January 1, 1996

 

Statute Amended or Created

 

Description

 1.

102.01(1)(em)
102.07 (4)(m)
102.07 (5)(d)
102.16 (5)
102.28 (2)(a)
102.28 (3)
Effective Date

Alternative Insurance for the Amish. This proposal exempts employers from the duty to insure workers whose religion is opposed to accepting the benefits of any public or private insurance payments for death, disability, old age, retirement or medical bills (including federal social security benefits) if: (1) the worker it; and (2) the religious sect agrees to pay benefits at a reasonable standard of living and medical treatment when compared to the general standards for members of the sect and secures this promise to pay with a binding letter of credit, surety bond or other financial instrument. The effective date of this section of Act 117 is December 28, 1995.

 2.

102.07 (11m)
Effective Date

Volunteers for Non-Profit Organizations. Expand the concept of a "volunteer" who is not covered by the worker’s compensation act to include those who receive up to $10 per week from non-profit organizations which are or would be eligible to receive 501 (c) status.

 3.

102.07 (12m)
102.077
102.29 (8)
Effective Date

Student Work Study Programs. For a two-year period ending January 1, 1998, allow school districts to accept worker’s compensation liability for certain work experience students and extend the exclusive remedy protection to worksite employers who accept these students as part of a work-study program.

 4.

102.11 (1) (intro)

Temporary Total Disability Rate. This proposal increases the maximum weekly TTD rate from $479 to $494 effective January 1, 1996 and to $509 effective January 1, 1997.

 5.

102.11 (1) (intro)

Permanent Partial Disability Rate. This proposal increases the maximum weekly PPD rate from $164 to $169 effective January 1, 1996 and to $174 effective January 1, 1997.

 6.

102.16 (2) (d)

Extend All "Sunset" Provisions for Another Two Years. Amendments to the worker’s compensation act are often "sunsetted" for a two-year trial period. Often the sunset provisions are extended several times before being dropped.

 7.

102.17 (1) (d)
102.17 (7) (a)
102.17 (7) (b)
102.17 (7) (c)
Effective Date

 

Verified/Certified Records. Currently, the law provides that some documents be certified (a written assurance of authenticity) and some documents be verified (a higher standard of authenticity sworn under oath). The current requirement for filing documents 15 days prior to hearing applies only to verified documents. The proposal eliminates the requirement for verification; requires certification of all documents; and applies the 15-day rule to all certified documents.

 8.

102.17 (2)

Own-Motion Hearings. This proposal codifies the Department’s long-standing policy that the Department is not a party in interest and is not required to send staff to either "prosecute" the dispute or testify as a witness when it sets a case for hearing on its own motion. Each year there are about 70-75,000 serious injuries reported to the Department. As part of monitoring the prompt and accurate payment of claims the Department schedules about 325 hearings a year on its own motion—without either party requesting a hearing. Most commonly, this occurs where an employer disputes the Department’s determination of penalties, average weekly wage, safety violations, the illegal employment of a minor, or permanent disability payments below the required minimums in Wis. Admin. Code sec. Ind 80.32.

 9.

102.29 (9)
Effective Date

Work Experience Programs. For a two-year period ending January 1, 1998, extend the exclusive remedy protection to worksite employers who accept AFDC-JOBS participants as part of a work-experience program even if the JOBS placing the AFDC recipient is designated as the employer for worker’s compensation purposes.

 10.

102.33 (2) (b) (intro)
102.33(2)(b)4.

Court Orders and Subpoenas for Claim Records. This proposal codifies current Department policy that: (1) the Department will not honor out-of-state court orders for the release of records which would otherwise be confidential; and (2) the Department will not honor subpoenas for claims records from parties to another Wisconsin legal proceeding unless the requester is a party to the worker’s compensation claim or unless there is an order from the judge of a court of competent jurisdiction in this state.

 11.

102.33(2)(b)2.

Facilitating Parties Access to Prior Claims Records. Contrary to expectations at that time, 1991 Wisconsin Act 85 complicated the traditional access of employers and insurance carriers to Department records regarding prior claims. To facilitate settlement of claims and to prevent fraud, this proposal clarifies any ambiguity about what was intended and codifies the Department’s long-standing prohibition against random searches.

 12.

102.44 (1) (a)
102.44 (1) (b)

Supplemental Benefits. This proposal increases the weekly supplemental benefits maximum from $125 to $150.

 13.

102.50

Burial Expense. This proposal increases burial benefits from $4,000 to $6,000.

 14.

102.80 (4) (a)
Effective Date

Successor Liability for Uninsured Employer Fund Penalties. Currently, the worker’s compensation law is silent on how to determine whether a successor to the transfer of a business or its assets is liable for penalties incurred by the prior business for being uninsured. This proposal applies successorship principles borrowed from unemployment compensation law when a business continues under essentially the same ownership.

 15.

102.83(1)(a)
102.835 (12)

Delete "Appeal" Language from Uninsured Employer Fund Levies. The language on appeals from levies was inadvertently borrowed from unemployment compensation law. There is no appeal process in worker’s compensation. Instead, when back-dated coverage is obtained from an insurance carrier, the Department rescinds the penalty for being uninsured and voids the warrant.

 16.

102.835(1)(b)
102.835(1)(c)
102.835(16)
102.835(17)

Delete the Wage Exemption from Uninsured Employer Fund Levies. The current worker’s compensation levy law was borrowed from unemployment compensation law where almost all levies are made against employees to recoup benefits which were inappropriately paid. That law does not allow the state to levy against the first $1,000 in an employee's bank account. This deletes the $1,000 exemption for worker’s compensation levies. Uninsured employers should not be able to take advantage of wage exemptions which were created to protect employees by avoiding penalties which are used to pay benefits to the injured workers of uninsured employers.

 17.

20.445 (1)(ha)
102.28 (2) (b)
102.75 (4)

Self-Insurance Fees. This proposal modifies the fees for applications and renewals for self-insurance to more closely reflect the Department’s actual cost of review. The fee will be established in 1996 by administrative rule. Renewal fees will be based, in part, on a pro rata share of the prior year’s indemnity payments for work-related injuries.

 18.

20.445(1)(sm)
20.445(1)(hp)
102.06
102.07(1)(a)
102.07(1)(b)
102.80(3)(a)
102.80(3)(ag)
102.80(3)(am)
102.80(3)(b)
102.80(3)(c)
102.81(1)(a)
102.81(1)(b)
102.81(2)
102.81(7)
Appropriation
Effective Date

Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF). This proposal suspends the operation of sec. 102.06 (the contractor over provision) as long as the UEF is accepting new claims. It authorizes the fund to start making payments to injured workers of uninsured employers for injuries which occur on or after the first day of July after the fund reaches $4 million (which should be July 1, 1996). Payments continue unless the Department Secretary determines the fund is likely to become insolvent. It also amends chapter 20 to provide that enforcement and administrative costs will come from the general assessment, not the fund. It also authorizes the Department to explore the possibility of aggregate stop-loss excess insurance coverage in managing the fund.

 19.

626.125

Qualified Loss Management Program (QLMP). This proposal creates enabling legislation for the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau to develop a QLMP program similar to that enacted in Massachusetts. Under the QLMP program, employers can receive an "up-front" credit on their insurance premium for safety improvements for up to three years in addition to any rate reduction in later years as a result of modifications under the experience-rating formula.