SB 76 Would Save $421,000 Per Year
JUNEAU – Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) introduced legislation today that repeals the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Commission. This commission was established in 2005 to keep Workers’ Compensation appeals out of the court system, but in practice the same ratio of cases are appealed to the Supreme Court. Eliminating the Commission will have direct cost savings of $421,000 because the Superior Court can handle these cases with no increases to their budget.
“For years the Legislature has discussed sending these cases back to the Superior Court – which had handled them just fine for decades. With a $1.6 billion deficit, we must find efficiencies everywhere we can. The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Commission is luxury we simply can no longer afford. The Superior Court has the expertise and staffing to properly handle these cases while saving the state money,” said Sen. Wielechowski.
Since 2007, the number of cases handled by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Commission has dropped by 60 percent. Senator Wielechowski has offered operating budget amendments the past three years to defund the Commission. The Commission hears appeals of decisions by the Workers’ Compensation Board and Commission rulings can be appealed to the Supreme Court. Under Wielechowski’s bill appeals would be heard by the Superior Court.
Senate Bill 76 is referred to the Labor & Commerce Committee, Judiciary Committee, and the Finance Committee.