Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

04/02/2009 01:00 PM LABOR & COMMERCE


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Audio Topic
01:07:25 PM Start
01:09:37 PM Overview: Nenana Basin Gas Exploration Project by Doyon, Ltd. and Rampart Energy
02:10:47 PM SB159
02:25:47 PM SB163
02:38:11 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Time & Location Change --
+ Presentation: Overview of Nenana Basin TELECONFERENCED
Gas Exploration Project by Doyon Ltd. and
Rampart Energy
*+ SB 159 WORKERS' COMPENSATION FUNERAL EXPENSES TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 159 Out of Committee
*+ SB 163 MAXIMUM BENEFIT FROM FISHERMEN'S FUND TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 163 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         SB 159-WORKERS' COMPENSATION FUNERAL EXPENSES                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:10:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR PASKVAN announced SB 159 to be up for consideration.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
JEFF STEPP, staff to Senator Paskvan,  said that SB 159 makes one                                                               
simple  change to  AS  23.30.215(a), which  refers  to the  death                                                               
benefit in workers' compensation (WC) that says:                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     If the injury causes death, the compensation known as                                                                      
     a death benefit is payable in the following amounts to                                                                     
     or for the benefit of the following persons:                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
This  bill  addresses  section one  saying  that  reasonable  and                                                               
necessary funeral  expenses are increased  from $5,000 to  a more                                                               
appropriate level of $10,000 based on 2009 funeral costs.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:12:48 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE asked how many workers  have been killed on the job                                                               
and received a death benefit in the past few years.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
JEFF  STEPP  replied  that  the  established  cases  of  workers'                                                               
compensation fatalities  varied from a  high of  39 in 2002  to a                                                               
low of  15 in  2006 over  the 10-year period  in his  chart. Last                                                               
year it was 29.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:15:13 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE   MONAGLE,  Program   Coordinator,   Division  of   Workers'                                                               
Compensation Benefit Guaranty Fund,  further clarified the report                                                               
saying  he puts  these reports  together every  year. A  fatality                                                               
includes funeral  costs as well  as death benefits being  paid to                                                               
the survivors.  The cases on  the top are actual  fatalities that                                                               
occurred during  that fiscal year;  the number on the  bottom are                                                               
those  fatality cases  that the  insurance companies  continue to                                                               
pay death benefits on.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:17:09 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BUNDE asked the fiscal  impact to the premium of doubling                                                               
funeral benefits.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
TRENA HEIKES,  Director, Division of Workers'  Compensation, said                                                               
she would  look into getting  those figures, but  multiplying the                                                               
additional $5,000 times the number  of deaths would give them the                                                               
impact  on the  insurance company.  She said,  "Given that  small                                                               
number, I think that would be negligible...."                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:18:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER asked if it would depend on the type of business.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCAVARA  replied  that  it would  depend  on  the  business,                                                               
because  Workers'  Compensation  premium  is based  on  the  risk                                                               
associated with that industry times the payroll.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:19:25 PM                                                                                                                    
KEVIN DOUGHERTY, Alaska Laborers,  supported SB 159. He clarified                                                               
that 26  fatalities happened in  FY 2000,  and that works  out to                                                               
$120,000-$130,000. The  system cost $226 million,  and that works                                                               
out  to less  than 1000th  of 1  percent. So,  they are  probably                                                               
talking about  negligible impact.  Everyone would  probably agree                                                               
that  when a  family has  a fatality,  they want  to have  a good                                                               
funeral.  He faxed  specific costs  to the  committee of  funeral                                                               
costs in various  areas; in Fairbanks for  example, a traditional                                                               
funeral costs $7,940  plus a headstone for about  $1400 to $7000;                                                               
so the $10,000-figure is certainly reasonable.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:22:52 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR PASKVAN closed public testimony.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  THOMAS  moved  to  report SB  159  from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note(s).  There                                                               
being no objection, the motion carried.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                

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