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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dale Lueck (R)

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Legislature approves bill modifying workers’ compensation related COVID-19

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

 

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation on a 130-4 vote modifying the current workers’ compensation regulations to ensure that healthcare and public safety workers are appropriately covered under the program in view of the unique challenges that the battle against the corona virus pandemic presents.

This legislation addresses concerns that loss of work suffered from the virus while in a work role would not be covered by the state’s current no-fault workers’ compensation system. The workers compensation program is an insurance program that provides salary replacement and medical benefits for workers injured in the course of their employment.

“Let there be no question, we have the backs of our frontline workers,” said Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin. “This adjustment ensures they do not have to be worried about their financial wellbeing should they contract the virus. This adjustment covers a broad range of healthcare and public safety workers that are in the day-to-day battle against the corona virus pandemic.”

The bill is based on concerns brought to legislators and the Workers Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) on how best to deal with the current situation. The advisory council consists of 12 voting members (six from labor and six representing employers) responsible for resolving worker’s compensation issues and providing recommendations to the legislature on changes to the workers compensation program.

The elements contained in the legislation received unanimous agreement among the members of the advisory council on April 6 and were accepted by legislators from all four House and Senate caucuses the following day. The bill contains three primary components:

  • Provides for a presumptive workers’ compensation insurance provision for the state’s first responders, health care workers if they test positive for COVID 19.
  • Identifies the range of healthcare and first responder related workers that fall under the Presumption of Occupational Disease provision.
  • Establishes the effective date for employees who contract COVID 19 as the day following final enactment and sunsets the provision on May 1, 2021.

The Senate passed the bill shortly after receiving it from the House and moved it forward to Gov. Walz for his signature. The legislature and the governor continue to work on the many issues that have been generated by the corona virus pandemic. The legislature remains on 24-hour call to act on any measures required to effectively combat the current corona virus outbreak and if not recalled earlier, will reconvene on April 14.

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