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SB 119: "An Act authorizing employers and employees to mediate disputed workers' compensation claims and negotiate collective bargaining agreements that require arbitration of disputed workers' compensation claims by the division of workers' compensation; allowing collective bargaining agreements to supersede provisions of the Alaska Workers' Compensation Act; and providing for an effective date."

00                             SENATE BILL NO. 119                                                                         
01 "An Act authorizing employers and employees to mediate disputed workers'                                                
02 compensation claims and negotiate collective bargaining agreements that require                                         
03 arbitration of disputed workers' compensation claims by the division of workers'                                        
04 compensation; allowing collective bargaining agreements to supersede provisions of the                                  
05 Alaska Workers' Compensation Act; and providing for an effective date."                                                 
06 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                                
07    * Section 1. AS 23.30.110 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:                                           
08            (i)  If the employee and the employer disagree with respect to the issues                                    
09       relating to a claim under this chapter, the employee and the employer and their                                   
10       respective representatives and agents may resolve the disagreement by mediation,                                  
11       subject to the following:                                                                                         
12                 (1)  mediation under this section                                                                       
13                      (A)  is intended to facilitate resolution of a disputed claim, but                                 
01            the mediator does not have the power to compel a resolution;                                                 
02                      (B)  shall be conducted by a hearing officer or other employee                                     
03            of the division of workers' compensation;                                                                    
04                      (C)  shall be conducted informally as one or more in-person or                                     
05            telephonic conferences, as determined by the mediator;                                                       
06                      (D)  shall be confidential; and                                                                    
07                      (E)  may not be recorded;                                                                          
08                 (2)  notwithstanding AS 23.30.135, evidence of efforts to resolve                                       
09       disputed claims and conduct or statements made during mediation may not be used as                                
10       evidence at a hearing under this chapter;                                                                         
11                 (3)  after the first conference, either party may withdraw;                                             
12 (4)  if the mediator determines that further mediation efforts would not                                                
13 be sufficiently productive, the mediator shall terminate mediation and notify the board                                 
14       that mediation efforts have failed;                                                                               
15 (5)  if the mediation resolves the disagreement, the mediator may assist                                                
16 the employer and the employee in preparing a memorandum of agreement for filing                                         
17       with the board or approval by the board under AS 23.30.012;                                                       
18 (6)  the expense of the mediation may not be assessed against the                                                       
19       participants.                                                                                                     
20    * Sec. 2. AS 23.30 is amended by adding a new section to read:                                                     
21 Sec. 23.30.285. Collective bargaining agreements. (a) A collective                                                    
22 bargaining agreement negotiated between an employer or a group of employers and an                                      
23       organization that represents employees may                                                                        
24 (1)  establish a process for resolving disputes under this chapter through                                              
25 mediation or arbitration, or both; a process established under this paragraph must                                      
26       provide that                                                                                                      
27 (A)  the parties must agree before a particular dispute may be                                                          
28            submitted to mediation;                                                                                      
29 (B)  if mediation fails, the parties shall submit the dispute to                                                        
30            arbitration under AS 09.43.300 - 09.43.595;                                                                  
31 (C)  notwithstanding AS 09.43.300 - 09.43.595, the mediation                                                            
01            or arbitration be conducted by a hearing officer or other employee of the                                    
02            division of workers' compensation;                                                                           
03                      (D)  the mediation or arbitration govern the dispute resolution                                    
04            process under this chapter;                                                                                  
05 (E)  the dispute resolution process result in findings of fact,                                                         
06 award, and a final order or decision by the arbitrator; the award, order, or                                            
07 decision of the arbitrator has the same force and effect as a finding of fact,                                          
08            award, order, or decision of a hearing officer under AS 23.30.005;                                           
09                 (2)  identify health care providers who are the exclusive source of                                     
10 medical treatment provided under this chapter; in this paragraph, "health care                                          
11       provider" has the meaning given in AS 09.55.560;                                                                  
12 (3)  identify independent medical evaluators who are the exclusive                                                      
13       source of medical evaluations authorized under this chapter;                                                      
14 (4)  identify vocational rehabilitation specialists who are the exclusive                                               
15       source of vocational rehabilitation services regulated under this chapter;                                        
16 (5)  establish a joint safety committee with representatives from the                                                   
17       employer and the labor organization; and                                                                          
18 (6)  establish a program for light-duty employment or employment that                                                   
19 is modified according to limitations or restrictions imposed by a physician or                                          
20       chiropractor.                                                                                                     
21 (b)  A collective bargaining agreement or a process under (a) of this section                                           
22       may not diminish a benefit under this chapter.                                                                    
23 (c)  Competing physicians may meet and communicate to negotiate                                                         
24 collectively with a party to a collective bargaining agreement in the same manner as                                    
25 competing physicians may meet and communicate with a health benefit plan                                                
26 concerning contract terms and conditions under AS 23.50.020 relating to the identity                                    
27 of the health care providers who are the exclusive source of medical treatment under                                    
28       (a)(2) of this section.                                                                                           
29            (d)  In this section, "organization" has the meaning given in AS 23.40.250.                                  
30    * Sec. 3. This Act takes effect July 1, 2019.