New York - A bill that would authorize occupational therapy assistants and physical therapy assistants to treat workers' compensation claimants is getting a second life in the New York legislature. S3969 passed out of the New York Senate last year but failed to pass the Assembly before the close of session. With the 2020 session already kicking off, the bill has been sent back to the Senate and is currently being considered by the Senate Labor Committee.
Maine - A new Maine law, placing increased fees and oversight on opioid manufacturers, went into place this past weekend. Under the new law, passed just last year, the state will impose a licensing fee on all opioid manufacturers doing business in the state to help pay for opioid treatment and recovery programs. The law also grants the state the ability to collect more information on what, how many, and how frequently manufacturers are sending opioids into Maine.
Oklahoma - Just a few weeks before the start of session, the first workers' compensation bill has been filed in the Oklahoma Senate. SB 1326, introduced by Senate Judiciary Chair Daniels, makes minor fixes to the workers' compensation system that address 2019 court decisions potentially allowing for employers to be liable for both torts and workers' compensation claims.
California - Last year, California adopted a new law that would drastically expand benefits and protections for gig economy workers, including easier access to workers' compensation. This week, Governor Gavin Newsom introduced the 2020-2021 state budget, giving us our first look at the likely impact of the expansive new law. Under the proposed budget, AB 5 is expected to cost the state over $20 million, with the bulk of that going to the Department of Industrial Relations to implement the new law. The budget also includes increased funding for the Department of Justice to expand enforcement actions and prosecute misclassification cases.
Federal - The Federal Government introduced a new initiative for executive departments to improve their processes for handling on-the-job injuries. The Protecting Employees, Enabling Reemployment Initiative is requiring federal departments to work with the Department of Labor's OSHA office and the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs to develop strategies and efforts to, among seven initiatives, increase timely filings of workers' compensation claims, improve and increase returnto-work outcomes for injured federal workers, and reduce injury cases.
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