Council on Workers' Compensation
Meeting Minutes
GEF-1 Building
Madison, Wisconsin
March 8 , 2016


Members present : Mr. Beiriger, Ms. Bloomingdale , Mr. Buchen, Mr. Dernbach(Chair),  Ms. Johnson, Mr. Kent, and Ms. Nugent

Member Excused: Mr. Ginsburg, Mr. Herzog, Mr. Redman, Mr. Schwanda, Ms. Seiler, and Ms. Thomas

Staff present: Mr. Aiello,  Ms. Endter,  Mr. Krueger, Mr. Moreth, and Mr. O'Malley

  1. Call to Order/Introductions:  Mr. Dernbach convened the Worker's Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) meeting at approximately 10:10 a.m. in accordance with Wisconsin's open meetings law.  Mr. Dernbach called the roll of the members who appeared by telephone. WCD staff  and members of the audience introduced themselves.
  2. Approval of minutes:.  A motion was made by Mr. Beiriger  to approve the minutes of the December 22, 2015 meeting . Ms. Bloomingdale seconded the motion. The minutes  were unanimously approved without correction.
  3. Correspondence:  Mr. Dernbach stated there was no new correspondence received since the last meeting. He also stated that he had received an e-mail message from Mr. Brand announcing his retirement from the Council
  4. Agreed Bill Status:  Mr. O'Malley informed the Council that the WCAC's Agreed Upon Bill for this session became 2015 Wisconsin Act 180. It was signed by the governor on March 29, 2016; was published on March 1, 2016; and became effective on March 2, 2016. The only exceptions to the March 2, 2016 effective date concerned changes requested by LIRC for appeals of administrative law judges' orders and appeals to Circuit Court, with an effective date on July 1, 2016. Those changes are found on page 7 of 2015 Wisconsin Act 180, in sections 34, 35, and 37. Copies of 2015 Wisconsin Act 180 and the plain language summary of the Agreed Upon Bill provisions were distributed to the Council. In addition, Mr. O'Malley said the complete version of 2015 Wisconsin Act 180, the plain language summary prepared by the Department, and AB-724, was posted on the Department's web page under the tabs for Legal and WCAC. AB-724 was posted because it contains the drafter's comments and analysis. The legislature passed the assembly version of the bill but its companion bill in the senate was SB-536.

    Ms. Bloomingdale wanted it noted that the amendment to AB-724 to repeal s. 102.07 (6), Wis. Stats., came from the Council and was approved by both the labor and management members of the Council. Mr. O'Malley explained that s. 102.07 (6), Wis. Stats., defined people selling or distributing newspapers or magazines on the street or from house to house as employees. With the amendment repealing the definition, people selling or distributing newspapers and magazines will be subject to the nine (9) part test for independent contractor status in s. 102.07 (8) (b), Wis. Stats.
  5. Social Security Reverse Offset:  Mr. O'Malley informed the Council that Wisconsin is one of  nine (9) states that have a reverse offset for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, resulting in the reduction of the worker's compensation indemnity benefits payable for a claim. The offset ends when a person reaches the full retirement age for social security. Mr. O'Malley said that Insurance Letter No. 508 was sent to advise everyone that the full retirement age of 65 applies to those persons who reach the age of 65 before December 18, 2015. Those persons who reach age 65 on and after December 19, 2015, will have the reverse offset apply until they reach the full retirement age of 66. This is a change in federal law. The full retirement age depends on the year of birth. Prior to this change, the social security reverse offset ended at age 65.
  6. Future Meeting Dates:  Mr. Dernbach asked the Council if they would like to set a schedule of meetings to prepare for the next agreed upon bill process, pointing out that the Council holds a public hearing in December to get in-put on issues to be considered.

    Several of the members suggested that the public hearing be moved to November. Mr. Dernbach said they would check on the availability of the Pyle Center to find a date in November. As for future meeting dates, the Council agreed to meet on the second Tuesday of each month after the public hearings: December 13, 2016, January 10, 2017, February 14, 2017, and March 14, 2017, subject to change.

    Several Council members asked that the public hearing be announced by whatever means were available, such as social media and the newspapers. Mr. Dernbach agreed to have the public meeting publicized on the department's Facebook page and twitter account, the newspapers, etc. He said the department's communication office could handle this. In addition, the Council members expressed an interest in setting a date by which all public comments would end, and suggested inviting the public to comment at their next meetings.
  7. Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC):  Commissioner David Falstad gave a presentation to the Council on the role and responsibilities of the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC). LIRC is comprised of three (3) commissioners: Laurie McCallum, Chair, Bill Jordahl, and Mr. Falstad. Mr. Falstad introduced Maria Gonzalez Knavel who was recently appointed by the governor as general counsel to LIRC; and Jeff Shampo, a senior LIRC attorney. The former general counsel, Tracey Schwalbe, was named deputy general counsel. Commissioner Falstad gave a broad overview of LIRC's mission to provide a fair and impartial review of the decisions of the administrative law judges in three programs, Unemployment Insurance, Worker's Compensation, and Equal Rights. Mr. Shampo answered questions. Commissioner Falstad especially wanted to thank the Council for making the changes in the agreed upon bill that were requested by LIRC.
  8. Other Business:  Mr. Kent asked if the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB) completed an analysis of some of the tentative issues that they were considering. Mr. Krueger explained that the WCRB was still gathering information and had sent a survey to insurers. Once the final report was prepared, it would be shared with the Council. Mr. Beiriger asked if the labor market economist's information on the number of employees in multiple part-time jobs was prepared. Mr. Dernbach explained there was no solid evidence, that the federal DOL was intending to collect that data, and that it appeared as though those numbers were declining. Mr. Kent also asked for copies of significant appellate court decisions that may help inform their upcoming discussions. Mr. Beiriger and Mr. Buchen suggested that the Council make contacts at the state legislature to explain the role of the WCAC, especially to the chairs of the labor committees.
  9. Adjournment:  Motion by Ms. Bloomingdale, seconded by Ms. Johnson, to adjourn. The motion passed unanimously. The meeting was adjourned at about 11:20 a.m.