North Dakota: House votes down bill aimed at opening up comp system to competition
The state House of Representatives voted 86-7 against H.B. 1408, sponsored by Reps. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, Donald L. Clark, R-Fargo, and Jim Kasper, R-Fargo. Currently, the state's Workforce Safety and Insurance agency is the only legal provider of workers' comp coverage in North Dakota. The legislation would have permitted employers to self-insure for workers' comp coverage or purchase insurance coverage from outside companies.
North Dakota is one of four states -- including Ohio, Washington and Wyoming -- that does not permit commercial insurance carriers to provide workers' comp coverage. Also, the state does not permit self-insurance.
Opponents of the bill argued that workers' comp rates in the state are already low and that competition was unnecessary. The WSI, which reviewed the bill in accordance with state law, also expressed concerns with the legislation. Agency officials said the bill would have led to higher premium rates and costs because the WSI would be charged with providing oversight of the self-insurance program and serving as the program's ultimate guarantor of loss.
North Dakota lawmakers also introduced two pieces of legislation aimed at providing greater protection for corruption whistleblowers. The bills came in response to the firing of four state employees who raised questions about the management of the WSI. The first bill, S. 2258, would require North Dakota's auditor to investigate whistleblower complaints. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tracy Potter, D-Bismarck, would also enable the state labor commissioner to reinstate employees who were terminated for pointing out corruption. The other bill, S. 2267, would officially name the labor commissioner as a point of contact for employees who wish to report corruption.
March 12, 2009
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