Legislature(2015 - 2016)BARNES 124

03/25/2015 03:15 PM House LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved HB 164 Out of Committee
<Uniform Rule 23(a) Waived>
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
          HB 114-WORKERS' COMPENSATION: DEATH BENEFITS                                                                      
3:18:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced that the first order of business would be                                                                 
HOUSE  BILL NO.  114,  "An Act  relating  to the  calculation  and                                                              
payment  of  workers'   compensation  benefits  in   the  case  of                                                              
permanent  partial impairment;  relating  to  the calculation  and                                                              
payment  of workers'  compensation  death  benefits  payable to  a                                                              
child  of  an  employee  where  there   is  no  surviving  spouse;                                                              
relating to the  calculation and payment of  workers' compensation                                                              
death  benefits for  an  employee without  a  surviving spouse  or                                                              
child;  relating   to  notice   of  workers'  compensation   death                                                              
benefits; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                 
3:18:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON,  speaking as  sponsor of HB  114, stated                                                              
that  the  first  thing  HB  114  does  is  to  increase  the  PPI                                                              
[permanent  partial   impairment]  amount,  which   has  not  been                                                              
changed since  2000.   The second  part would  offer a  remedy for                                                              
the  estates of  workers  who  have been  killed  or  died at  the                                                              
3:20:21 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  said this bill  was about a  policy call                                                              
under  the Alaska  Supreme  Court decision  related  to AS  23.30,                                                              
Ranney  v. Whitewater  Engineering,  122 P.3d  214 (Alaska  2005).                                                            
In the  foregoing case,  Ms. Ranney,  was unmarried  with a  long-                                                              
time  live-in boyfriend,  Gary Stone  and argued  that she  should                                                              
receive death  benefits when Mr.  Stone died.  The  Alaska Supreme                                                              
Court unanimously  ruled  that she  should not  receive them.   It                                                              
held that  the legislature had  undertaken some "line  drawing" in                                                              
the  workers'  compensation  code.    It  noted  that  legislators                                                              
frequently  engage  in  line  drawing.    He  suggested  that  the                                                              
legislature needs to redraw some of the lines.                                                                                  
3:21:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  stated   that  HB  114  would  ask  the                                                              
legislature  to  reconsider  redrawing  some  of the  lines.    He                                                              
related  that numerous  single childless  people  live in  Alaska.                                                              
He further  stated that if a  single person dies at  the workplace                                                              
with  no  obvious  third-party  liability,  for  example,  if  the                                                              
person falls off  a ladder and dies, the remedy would  be in Title                                                              
[AS] 23.   Although he said he  was not a personal  injury lawyer,                                                              
he suggested  if the ladder  had a bad  rung and the  person fell,                                                              
the state  might sue the manufacturer  of the ladder.   Typically,                                                              
workplace  deaths  are due  to  a  generally unsafe  workplace  or                                                              
employee negligence  and in  instances in  which an employee  dies                                                              
and  is childless,  AS 23  provides  the estate  with $10,000  for                                                              
funeral expenses and nothing more.                                                                                              
3:22:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  offered  that  the  employer  might  be                                                              
subject  to  some  occupational safety  violations  when  a  death                                                              
occurs, but there  wouldn't be any incentive to  improve workplace                                                              
safety.  In  the specific case that  led to him filing  this bill,                                                              
an   OSHA   [Occupational  Safety   and   Health   Administration]                                                              
investigation  occurred.   Overall, current  law lacks any  remedy                                                              
for  single people  who die  in the  workplace,  and often  people                                                              
postpone marriage  or having children.   He offered his  view that                                                              
this  issue  needs   reform.    In  instances   in  which  nothing                                                              
malfunctions  in the  workplace  or was  tortuously  manufactured,                                                              
such as  a badly designed product  that exploded, Alaska  does not                                                              
allow  the estate  to  sue for  wrongful death  nor  is there  any                                                              
remedy  other  than  the  $10,000   funerary  expenses  previously                                                              
3:24:48 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  referred to  Section  1,  which was  an                                                              
uncodified provision  that requests the Act be  called the Abigail                                                              
Caudle  Act,  to reference  an  employee  who  was killed  in  the                                                              
workplace in  2011.  At  the time, Ms.  Caudle was working  for an                                                              
electrical  contractor at  a midtown  Anchorage  branch of  Alaska                                                              
USA and  she suffered an  electric accident,  fell, and died  as a                                                              
result of those injuries.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  stated that  Section  2 would  increase                                                              
the permanent  partial impairment  (PPI) rating,  noting that  the                                                              
PPI amount  has not  been increased  from a  whole body  figure of                                                              
$177,000.   This language  would increase  the rating to  $255,584                                                              
to reflect  today's figures.  He  said that a doctor could  find a                                                              
person suffered a  partial permanent injury and if  so, the system                                                              
has scales for this depending on the loss.                                                                                      
3:26:28 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  said   that  Section  3  would  provide                                                              
notice of  death benefits  so it  is very clear  to the  estate of                                                              
the  deceased what  the remedies  are, including  that the  estate                                                              
can hire an attorney,  seek grief counseling, and  other things an                                                              
employer should provide.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  referred  to  Section  4,  noting  that                                                              
current law  provides for funeral  expenses.  He  provided details                                                              
of the  progression of  spendable weekly  wages a widow,  widower,                                                              
child,  or  children  will  receive   ranging  from  zero  to  100                                                              
percent,  depending on  the number  of  surviving family  members.                                                              
In response  to Representative LeDoux  he agreed this  was current                                                              
statute.   He  continued,  noting  that an  only  child without  a                                                              
surviving spouse would receive 100 percent of the benefits.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON expressed  concern that  a teenager  may                                                              
receive  only a  few months  of financial  assistance and  funeral                                                              
expenses  if  his/her parent  died  in  the workplace,  since  the                                                              
support would  end at either age 18  or 19 - he wasn't  certain of                                                              
the age  limit; however,  under the  bill payments would  continue                                                              
for five  years.  He characterized  current law as  constituting a                                                              
lack of generosity  in the system.   He reviewed paragraph  (3) of                                                              
existing law, pertaining  to a surviving spouse  who remarries and                                                              
benefits are  ceased after two years.   Paragraph (4) [on  page 3,                                                              
lines 12-17]  would increase the  amount from the  $20,000 allowed                                                              
for people  dependent  on the person  who died  in the  workplace,                                                              
such as an  elderly parent or  siblings, to the whole  body amount                                                              
of  $177,000  or potentially  $255,000  if  the PPI  is  increased                                                              
under the bill.                                                                                                                 
3:32:49 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX   related  her  understanding   that  under                                                              
current law if  the decedent was supporting relatives,  they could                                                              
receive  $20,000, but  a  child over  18 years  of  age would  not                                                              
receive anything  unless  they supported a  grandchild, who  could                                                              
receive benefits.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  answered  yes.    He  referred  to  the                                                              
language in [paragraph]  (4), stating that a son who  was 18 and a                                                              
half years old  could receive an additional 6  months in benefits,                                                              
but the  person's grandchild,  as a  dependent could receive  more                                                              
as a  percentage of  the deceased's  spendable  weekly wages.   In                                                              
response to Representative  LeDoux, he answered that  existing law                                                              
limited the support  to $20,000.  He surmised the  theory was that                                                              
the nuclear  family gets less important  outside the ring  of [the                                                              
immediate family such as] parents or children.                                                                                  
3:35:15 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX   expressed  concern  since   many  parents                                                              
currently support their children through college.                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  said  this  bill  would  allow  for  an                                                              
extension.  He referred  to [page 3, line 25]  to proposed Section                                                              
5, which would  extend the death  benefits paid to a child  to age                                                              
24 to  allow death benefits  to continue and  not stop at  age 19,                                                              
and  it would  continue  as a  fraction  of the  spendable  weekly                                                              
allowance,  presumably to get  the child  of the deceased  through                                                              
3:36:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  directed attention to a  final scenario,                                                              
which  brings Ms.  Burke to  Juneau.   He  indicated the  deceased                                                              
worker  was single  without any  dependents.   This bill  proposes                                                              
the  estate would  receive half  of  the whole  body allowance  in                                                              
death  benefits,  which  is approximately  half  of  the  $177,000                                                              
[PPI] under  current  law or $88,000.   He  directed attention  to                                                              
the fiscal  note impact due  to changes in  the PPI, he said.   He                                                              
acknowledged  that Chair Olson  has his own  bill related  to PPI,                                                              
which has  not been  increased since 2000  and should  be adjusted                                                              
to reflect the 2015 value.                                                                                                      
3:38:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON commented that the fiscal note was significant.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON said  he  also had  questions about  the                                                              
fiscal note.                                                                                                                    
3:38:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   JOSEPHSON  referred   to  [paragraph]   (6),  and                                                              
questioned  differentiating  between  the  estate  of  the  single                                                              
person with  or without children.   He suggested that  the figures                                                              
used  were   half  the   amount  available   under  the   modified                                                              
[paragraph] (4),  or half of $177,000.   Proposed Section  5 would                                                              
adjust the  amount based on  the Consumer  Price Index (CPI).   He                                                              
offered his  belief that the  benefits of  passing HB 114  is that                                                              
that it improve  workplace safety, although it  would be difficult                                                              
to  quantify; and  it  would reflect  the  PPI; and  fundamentally                                                              
would confirm  that just because  a person  is single and  dies in                                                              
the  workplace doesn't  mean the  individual's estate  is not  due                                                              
any settlement.                                                                                                                 
3:41:08 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  asked whether the fiscal  note applies only  to state                                                              
LEASA   DAVIS,  Division   of  Risk   Management,  Department   of                                                              
Administration (DOA)  answered yes;  stating that the  fiscal note                                                              
was based  on the AWCB [Alaska  Workers' Compensation  Board] data                                                              
for the past  five years.   She related her calculation,  based on                                                              
the  PPI [permanent  partial  impairment ratings]  benefit  payout                                                              
multiplied by  45,000.   She said she  reviewed the claim  history                                                              
and reported  that one  person died  in the  line of duty  without                                                              
leaving a  family or dependents and  the death benefit  amount was                                                              
averaged over five years.                                                                                                       
3:42:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON asked  whether  the private  sector  would have  more                                                              
fatalities than the state.                                                                                                      
MS.  DAVIS  answered  that more  fatalities  happen  with  certain                                                              
industries,  such  as  high  risk  occupations,  including  public                                                              
safety or those individuals who fly as part of their job duties.                                                                
3:42:51 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  for further  clarification  on  the                                                              
fiscal  note.   She asked  whether  these changes  would cost  the                                                              
state $291 million.                                                                                                             
MS. DAVIS  explained that she  inadvertently listed  whole numbers                                                              
of $291,632  for six  months and  $583,263 for a  full year.   She                                                              
apologized for the error.                                                                                                       
3:43:31 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KITO directed  attention to  the fourth  paragraph                                                              
of the fiscal  note analysis that indicated the  bill could result                                                              
in a yearly  average increase of  $23,585.40.  He  questioned this                                                              
figure since  there has only  been one instance  in the  past five                                                              
years.   He  asked for further clarification on the  basis for the                                                              
$291,000 and $500,000 projections.                                                                                              
MS. DAVIS explained  the formula she used to arrive  at the fiscal                                                              
note  figures.   The  fiscal  note was  based  on the  annual  PPI                                                              
[permanent partial  impairment] payout over five  years multiplied                                                              
by  the increase  of  the  percentage of  44  percent.   She  also                                                              
reviewed the  six percent  second injury  fund amount and  records                                                              
to  discover  only one  individual  died  due  to  an on  the  job                                                              
fatality  without  any dependents.    She averaged  the  foregoing                                                              
death benefits over five years.                                                                                                 
3:45:06 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KITO  asked whether most of the  increased costs in                                                              
the  fiscal  note were  due  to  the consumer  price  index  (CPI)                                                              
MS. DAVIS  answered that  she did  not include  the CPI  since the                                                              
state  is entering  a deflationary  period so  the future  figures                                                              
are unknown.   She  explained that  the bulk of  costs are  due to                                                              
the actual  PPI rate increase itself  since the department  sees a                                                              
large number of PPI ratings for state employees.                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KITO  related his  understanding that it  was based                                                              
on the historic catch up costs.                                                                                                 
3:45:43 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER related  his understanding  that the  state                                                              
entity is  self-insured.  He asked  whether there was any  type of                                                              
reinsurance or umbrella policy for these kinds of claims.                                                                       
MS. DAVIS answered  no.  She stated that the state  was completely                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER  suggested  that  in  his  experience  most                                                              
government  entities have another  level of  insurance as  well as                                                              
CHAIR  OLSON  suggested   that  he  was  referring   to  liability                                                              
insurance, and this  bill relates to workers'  compensation, which                                                              
has an exclusive remedy.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  COLVER said  he was  seeking a  way to reduce  the                                                              
state's exposure.                                                                                                               
3:46:52 PM                                                                                                                    
LORI WING-HEIER,  Director, Division  of Insurance, Department  of                                                              
Commerce,  Community &  Economic  Development  (DCCED), said  that                                                              
according to  the National Council  on Compensation Insurance  - a                                                              
statistical rating  organization that sets  rates in Alaska  - the                                                              
bill could possibly have a 4 percent impact on rates.                                                                           
3:47:51 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  WING-HEIER,  in response  to  Representative  Colver,  agreed                                                              
self-insured  entities  frequently  have  a  stop-loss  or  excess                                                              
workers' compensation  policy, typically in excess  of $500,000 or                                                              
$1  million,  which  is common  for  large  employers.    Further,                                                              
larger employers  often do not have  policies because of  the high                                                              
cost.   If  entities don't  purchase the  insurance, the  division                                                              
refers  to  the  amount  as  the  "burn  layer."    Basically,  if                                                              
entities  do not exceed  the costs  very often,  it is  frequently                                                              
better to save the  [insurance fees] and use the  money for claims                                                              
expenses.    She  offered  her belief  that  was  what  the  state                                                              
decided to do.                                                                                                                  
3:48:34 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  commented that if  HB 114 were  to pass, the  bulk of                                                              
the claims would  fall under private policyholders  rather than on                                                              
the state.                                                                                                                      
MS.  WING-HEIER added  that most  large employers  may have  small                                                              
claims of $20,000  to $100,000 with an occasional  large claim due                                                              
to a significant injury or fatality.                                                                                            
3:49:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE COLVER asked for the average fatality rate.                                                                      
MS. WING-HEIER deferred  to the Division of  Workers' Compensation                                                              
to respond.                                                                                                                     
3:49:53 PM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL MONAGLE,  Director, Central  Office, Division  of Workers'                                                              
Compensation,   Department  of  Labor   &  Workforce   Development                                                              
(DLWD),  responded to  an earlier  question, noting  that a  child                                                              
dependent was  a child up  to age of  19, with an  additional four                                                              
more years if they  were attending college.  In  addition, he read                                                              
a portion of the  definition of "child" in existing  law [under AS                                                              
23.30.395 (8)]  as follows,  " ... are  wholly dependent  upon the                                                              
deceased  employee ...."   Thus  the death  benefits can  continue                                                              
beyond the  age of 19  if the child  is dependent on  the deceased                                                              
employee.   He  clarified  that the  benefit  was  not limited  to                                                              
grandchildren, grandparents, or parents.                                                                                        
3:51:13 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX related  a scenario  in which the  decedent                                                              
died  while a  child  was  a sophomore  in  high school,  went  to                                                              
college, but decides  to go to medical school.   She asked whether                                                              
the workers' compensation would cover it.                                                                                       
MR. MONAGLE  answered no, since  it says  the first four  years of                                                              
college and  the statute doesn't  anticipate graduate school.   He                                                              
read  additional  language for  the  definition of  "child"  which                                                              
read, "  ... are wholly dependent  upon the deceased  employee and                                                              
incapable  of  self-support  by   reason  of  mental  or  physical                                                              
disability, [and persons  of any age while they  are attending the                                                              
first four years  of vocational school, trade school,  or college,                                                              
and persons  of any age while  they are attending  high school;"].                                                              
In response to  Representative Josephson, he offered  the citation                                                              
for the definition as AS 23.30.395 (7).                                                                                         
3:52:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HUGHES asked for  more of  a foundation  since she                                                              
was not  familiar with workers'  compensation.  She  recalled that                                                              
the rates  for the  private sector  might increase  by 4  percent.                                                              
She suggested  that was an  automatic payment, but  she understood                                                              
that the surviving family members often file lawsuits.                                                                          
MR. MONAGLE  answered that it depends.   He informed  members that                                                              
workers'  compensation is  an exclusive  liability,  in fact,  you                                                              
cannot  bring a  separate action  against employers  even if  they                                                              
are  negligent;  however, there  is  a third-party  exposure,  for                                                              
example, if a rung  of a ladder or other machinery  was defective.                                                              
Since  the  exclusive  liability  does not  extend  to  the  third                                                              
party, a lawsuit  could be filed.  However,  workers' compensation                                                              
law provides for  an offset so the survivor would  not receive the                                                              
full death  benefit plus the  full third-party recovery  since the                                                              
employer would be allowed to reduce their benefit payments.                                                                     
3:54:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON asked whether  the third-party  recovery                                                              
was from the second injury fund.                                                                                                
MR. MONAGLE  answered no.   He explained  a separate  provision in                                                              
law allows  an employer  to offset any  third-party recovery.   He                                                              
explained  that the  second injury  fund  was established  through                                                              
assessments  against  employer  indemnity  benefits.   The  second                                                              
injury  fund would  be  used in  instances  in  which an  employer                                                              
hires a  person with  a qualifying  preexisting condition  and the                                                              
employee  has a  subsequent  workplace injury  made  worse by  the                                                              
pre-existing  condition.    If  an  employer  hires  an  employee,                                                              
knowing  the employee  has had  a lot  of back  injuries, but  the                                                              
employee  is subsequently  injured,  the fund  will reimburse  the                                                              
employer for  the indemnity benefit  payments so long as  it meets                                                              
all the requirements for second injury fund reimbursement.                                                                      
3:55:23 PM                                                                                                                    
MARIANNE BURKE began her testimony, as follows:                                                                                 
     You have no  idea what I've gone through  to this point.                                                                   
     This  is bittersweet  - to talk  to you  - I'm  excited,                                                                   
     but  I'm saddened  for the  reason I  stand before  you.                                                                   
     My  daughter   [Abigail  Caudle]   was  killed   in  the                                                                   
     workplace  and no value  at all - zero  - was given  for                                                                   
     her  life.   When  you talk  about different  money  and                                                                   
     stuff in the  workplace environment - there  was nothing                                                                   
     given for  her life, but the  funeral costs.   That's it                                                                   
     -  because  she   had  no  dependents.     There  is  no                                                                   
     liability  to the  employer.   Nothing  happened to  the                                                                   
     employers  whatsoever because  of "no fault"  insurance.                                                                   
     Nothing  happens.     If  there   is  any  payout,   the                                                                   
     insurance pays  it - and I'll  get to that in  a minute.                                                                   
     I  just want  to  emphasize those  two  points before  I                                                                   
3:57:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BURKE continued her testimony, as follows:                                                                                  
     My daughter was  the second child of four  children, two                                                                   
     boys  and two  girls.   Her  sister and  she would  play                                                                   
     dolls  growing  up.   She  enjoyed  soccer,  basketball,                                                                   
     babysitting, day  care - she worked at Home  Depot.  She                                                                   
     volunteered  at ChangePoint  church  doing lighting  for                                                                   
     all  of their  services  for three  years.   She  helped                                                                   
     with the youth group at ChangePoint.                                                                                       
MS. BURKE paused to show photographs of her daughter.                                                                           
MS. BURKE continued.  She said:                                                                                                 
     My daughter  was a  new apprentice  with Raven  Electric                                                                   
     so she was  not with the unions.  The private  sector is                                                                   
     not  as "up"  as  the unions  are  sometimes.   She  was                                                                   
     [indisc.]  with a live  wire.  They  were working  on an                                                                   
     open  junction box  in a  bank remodel  job taking  down                                                                   
     lights.   The journeyman  did not  turn off the  circuit                                                                   
     breaker or  lock and tag  as he was  supposed to.   This                                                                   
     was because  he wasn't planning  on doing that  lighting                                                                   
     that night.   Usually he  would bring temporary  lights,                                                                   
     but he  wasn't planning  on doing  that work that  night                                                                   
     so  they  used  the  lights that  were  there  and  just                                                                   
     turned off  light switches.   Abigail had an  inadequate                                                                   
     non-contact  tester.  It  did not  clamp onto the  wire;                                                                   
     it  just went  near the  wire so  it did  not sense  the                                                                   
     live wire.   She tried it twice.  It showed  green, safe                                                                   
     or to  go.  And  she touched the  live wire; got  locked                                                                   
     up.   Her coworkers  tried to  get her  off the  ladder.                                                                   
     They  couldn't.   They finally  kicked  the ladder  real                                                                   
     hard  and she  fell off  to the  floor.   She went  into                                                                   
     seizures.   The others  told that  about 440 volts  that                                                                   
     went  through her  body.   She  [indisc.]  defibrillator                                                                   
     and she  was taken to  the hospital.   She was 26  years                                                                   
     old and  she died on June 21,  2011.  I cannot  tell you                                                                   
     how much  we miss  Abigail [indisc.].   Her sister  does                                                                   
     not have a  sister anymore.  Her brothers do  not have a                                                                   
     sister  that  they  had  anymore to  talk  with  and  be                                                                   
     support with.  Thank you.                                                                                                  
3:59:32 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BURKE  said that  about  three  months after  her  daughter's                                                              
death she  called numerous lawyers,  but none would  represent her                                                              
since  her  daughter's  death fell  under  workers'  compensation.                                                              
She said  the lawyers  she contacted informed  her they  would not                                                              
win the case and  that similar cases had been taken  to the Alaska                                                              
Supreme Court  and the plaintiff  did not  prevail.  In  fact, she                                                              
couldn't  even get  any lawyer  to take  the case  pro bono.   Two                                                              
years after her  daughter's death she began fighting  - by herself                                                              
- for  death benefits  for  her daughter   She could  not sue  the                                                              
employer,  she  said,  due  to House  Bill  323  that  passed  the                                                              
legislature  in 2004.    Since her  daughter's  death  was a  work                                                              
related death  she also could not  file a civil lawsuit  or obtain                                                              
any type  of justice.   Subsequently,  the legislature  considered                                                              
House Bill 303,  which would have allowed wrongful  death cases to                                                              
be filed civilly,  but that bill  did not pass, in part,  since it                                                              
was opposed by the business sector.                                                                                             
4:00:49 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BURKE declared  that  workers'  compensation  laws give  zero                                                              
value to  people like  her daughter, a  single worker  without any                                                              
dependents,  except for  funeral  costs.   Although the  employer,                                                              
[Raven  Electric]  received  five  citations  from  OSHA  [the  US                                                              
Department    of   Labor,   Occupational    Safety   and    Health                                                              
Administration],  in  which  four violations  were  determined  to                                                              
contribute  to  her  daughter's   death,  the  company  only  paid                                                              
$11,000  to OSHA.   In  fact, OSHA  advised her  that after  three                                                              
years  the  employer's  slate  will  be  wiped  clean.    She  was                                                              
astonished   at   this   outcome  since   her   daughter's   death                                                              
constituted  gross negligence  by the  employer.   As the  sponsor                                                              
said earlier,  the Abigail  Caudle Act would  update the  value of                                                              
an  employee's  life  by increasing  the  PPI  [permanent  partial                                                              
impairment]  amount  to $256,000,  noting  the  PPI has  not  been                                                              
adjusted in 15 years.                                                                                                           
4:01:41 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BURKE stated  that if the PPI figures were updated  all of the                                                              
people  who  are  injured  will   receive  compensation  based  on                                                              
today's  wages.   Survivors of  workers  killed on  the job  would                                                              
receive  something, describing  her  feelings  as hollow  feelings                                                              
since  nothing   was  given   for  her   daughter's  life.     She                                                              
recommended the statute  of limitations should be  raised from one                                                              
year to  four years.   She  reported that  California has  a four-                                                              
year statute  of limitation  in wrongful  deaths, and even  though                                                              
she recognizes that  this bill pertains to  workers' compensation,                                                              
the  statute  of limitation  still  needs  to  be raised  to  four                                                              
years.  She  explained that two  years passes by quickly  during a                                                              
period of grief  when losing a loved  one and one year  was simply                                                              
4:02:47 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  BURKE  said  that  this  issue  is  a  bipartisan  issue  and                                                              
although   she  her   political  affiliation   is  Republican,   a                                                              
Democrat, Representative  Josephson, stepped up to help  her.  She                                                              
stressed that  this issue adversely  affects families.   She urged                                                              
the legislature  to pass HB  114.  Even  though the bill  may need                                                              
additional  work  and  businesses  don't  want  to  pay  more  for                                                              
workers' compensation,  perhaps businesses could elect  to provide                                                              
a life  insurance policy  for their employees  or require  them to                                                              
obtain  life insurance.    Most  importantly, under  current  law,                                                              
employers  can avoid purchasing  safety equipment  since they  are                                                              
not held  accountable and  lawsuits can't  be filed against  them.                                                              
She  felt  it was  crucial  that  the law  recognizes  that  every                                                              
person  has   value.     She  said   one  problem  with   workers'                                                              
compensation  was   due  to  "no   fault"  insurance,   which  she                                                              
characterized as being a nationwide problem.                                                                                    
4:04:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  OLSON stated  that having  an exclusive  remedy means  that                                                              
workers'  compensation will  pay immediately,  whether or  not the                                                              
claim is perceived  as legitimate and it could  be controverted if                                                              
issues arise.                                                                                                                   
MS.   BURKE  offered   his   belief,   shared  by   the   workers'                                                              
compensation staff she  spoke to, that when a death  occurs in the                                                              
workplace  it should  cease to  be a  workers' compensation  case.                                                              
This  was especially  true  in instances  in  which employers  are                                                              
negligent, which  was the case in  her daughter's death  since the                                                              
employees   did  not  lock   and  tag,   the  employees   did  not                                                              
communicate, and the  employer failed to do a number  of things it                                                              
should have  done.  In fact,  Abigail was a new  apprentice, brand                                                              
new, trusting  her journeymen  that she was  safe, she said.   Her                                                              
daughter's  journeymen   weren't  even   in  the  room   when  the                                                              
electrical  accident occurred.    In closing  she emphasized  that                                                              
when  deaths occur,  the  matter should  not  fall under  workers'                                                              
compensation  to  allow  for  justice.  She  thanked  members  for                                                              
allowing her to testify.                                                                                                        
[HB 114 was held over.]                                                                                                         
4:06:23 PM                                                                                                                    
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB164 ver A.PDF HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 164
HB164 Sponsor Statement.pdf HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 164
HB164 Sectional Analysis.pdf HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 164
HB114 ver A.PDF HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 114
HB114 Sponsor Statement.pdf HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 114
HB114 Sectional Analysis.pdf HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 114
HB114 Fiscal Note-DOA-DRM-03-20-15.pdf HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 114
HB114 Fiscal Note-DOLWD-WC-03-27-15.pdf HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 114
HB114 Supporting Documents-Research Report 2-4-15.PDF HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 114
HB114 Supporting Documents-Intestate Statutes.pdf HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 114
HB164 Supporting Documents-DOI Presentation-3-25-15.pdf HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 164
HB164 Fiscal Note-DOA-DOI-3-24-15.pdf HL&C 3/25/2015 3:15:00 PM
HB 164