North Dakota: Lawmakers contemplate overhauling state's workers' compensation board
The measure, which was approved by 67 percent of voters in early November, will permit the governor of North Dakota -- rather than an appointed board of directors -- to hire the director of the state's workers' comp agency. Supporters of the measure had collected more than 15,000 signatures on petitions to land the proposal on the ballot. Under the state's previous system, an appointed board of directors had the authority to hire the chief executive officer of the Workforce Safety and Insurance agency, which directs the workers' comp system in North Dakota.
Since the approval of the measure, lawmakers have urged changes in state law to better outline the responsibilities, powers and function of the board. Members of the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee, which have the authority to enact and change workers' comp legislation, have discussed the possibility of making the 11-member WSI board of directors an advisory group, with Gov. John Hoeven serving as chairman.
The ballot measure also requires the agency to use independent administrative law judges when determining workers' comp claim disputes. The WSI previously had the authority to reject the decisions of administrative law judges. It also provides civil service protection to WSI employees, who currently can be dismissed for any reason.
December 2, 2008
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