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Workers’ Comp: Update on House Bill 1011 – Commissioners Likely To Be Purged

I am late with an update on House Bill 1011, which I originally blogged about here. As noted in the previous post, the Full Commission is the governing body of the Industrial Commission, setting policy and procedures and deciding cases appealed from the deputy commissioners’ decisions. House Bill 1011 clears the Full Commission of all its current members (save recently appointed Chair Andrew Heath), cutting short their original terms. The clean sweep is part of wider effort by legislative Republicans to remove democratic appointees from State boards.

The bill passed the State House before the cross-over deadline and is now pending with the Senate. As such, the bill is all but certain to become law. Having scuttled the original Senate effort to remake State boards, the House is the more moderate of our two legislative bodies. If the revised bill passed the House with such ease, it is only a matter of time before it passes the Senate.

In my previous post, I explained the effect this bill will have on the cases of injured workers. More interesting to me now is another question: Who wants this job? Anecdotally, I know that many experienced and prominent attorneys who represent employers and insurance companies have been approached about their interest in an appointment to the Full Commission. It seems that few have interest in leaving lucrative law practices for service at the Full Commission. Hopefully, Governor McCrory will be able to identify experienced, dedicated, and fair-minded appointees to administer the Workers’ Compensation Act with justice. We will certainly need quality appointees after losing so many experienced commissioners in one fell swoop.

In my next post, I will address Senate Bill 174, another piece of legislation that will be harmful to injured workers.

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