The Passage of HB 199: How Kidsí Chance of Montana is Helping Families in Need
In 2019, Kids' Chance of Montana (KCMT) President Peter Van Nice attended the 2019 Kids' Chance National Conference in Sarasota, Florida. It was there he heard Jim Werbeckes, past president of Kids' Chance of Nevada, share information about recent legislation he was able to help get passed in his state.
Jim had contacted The Nevada Division of Industrial Relations (DIR) because they “know who all of the kids receiving death benefits are. We made a request for them to send some information to these kids to let them know we're here and we can help. The DIR came back and said they didn't have the legislative authority to do that.” Therefore, Jim went to the legislature and passed Assembly Bill 455, giving the DIR the authority to send information out to nonprofit organizations.
Inspired to Action
Peter was inspired and took this information back to his board in Montana in May 2019. They decided to reach out to the Labor Management Committee to see if they could use the Nevada Legislation as a template in pursuing legislation to help families in Montana.
The KCMT Board was very supportive. They were able to apply a creative approach in adding House Bill 199 (HB199) to the docket under the Department of Labor's “Clean Up Bill Section”. HB 199 allows the Department of Labor to provide information to claimants regarding non-statutory programs or benefits offered to injured workers or the families of injured workers by a nonprofit organization.
The final push came with Labor and Managements' support and the perseverance of the Kids' Chance of Montana Board. Despite experiencing a significant slow down due to COVID-19, the perseverance of Peter and the KCMT Board helped the bill finally pass in March 2021, with an effective date of July 1, 2021. “Being able to provide additional benefits to families of injured workers really helps to improve the workers' compensation system,” Peter said.
Coming Full Circle
Peter reached out to Jim several times throughout the process with questions and Jim was always very supportive, even helping provide some of the language for HB199.
“Building relationships is vital to passing legislation, fundraising and almost anything we do with Kids' Chance,” said Jim.
The collaboration was valuable to KCMT: “Being part of the Kids' Chance community and working with other state volunteers keeps us moving forward. We can learn from each other and help each other to meet our mission,” said Peter.