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Minnesota Legislature

New Law: Workers’ compensation changes

Published (7/15/2011)
By Nick Busse
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Sponsored by Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R-Woodbury) and Sen. Ted Lillie (R-Lake Elmo), a new law enacts a series of recommendations of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council. Unless otherwise noted, its provisions take effect Aug. 1, 2011.

The council is made up of representatives of the state’s major business and labor organizations, and recommends changes to statutes governing the workers’ compensation program. The legislation they propose is usually considered noncontroversial.

Selected changes made by the law include:

• establishing a new timeline for settlement and pretrial conferences;

• clarifying who may serve as a workers’ compensation judge, and that requirements for compensation judges are distinct from temporary administrative law judges;

• establishing that only compensation judges may conduct workers’ compensation proceedings;

• providing that only the commissioner of labor and industry or a workers’ compensation judge may issue written decisions and assess penalties;

• clarifying when a compensation judge must be removed from a case;

• effective May 28, 2011, providing for exceptions, under certain conditions, from the requirement that an award to a disabled employee for home remodeling or construction to accommodate the individual’s disability be certified by a licensed architect;

• also effective May 28, 2011, raising the limit on awards for remodeling or construction to accommodate an employee’s disability from $60,000 to $75,000; and

• directing the Department of Labor and Industry to replace the “average wholesale price” standard in Minnesota Rules with the “wholesale acquisition cost” standard in regard to medical fees.

The law also authorizes a one-time appropriation of $600,000 from the special compensation fund to implement a case management and electronic filing system at the Office of Administrative Hearings.

HF1362/ SF1159*/CH89

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