TCA: House Should Say ‘Not Now’ to Haslam Workers Comp Request

Press release from Tennessee Citizen Action; April 9, 2013:

Nashville, Tenn. (April 9, 2013) – Tennessee Citizen Action issued the following statement calling on the State House of Representatives to delay the Governor’s push for changes to Workers’ Comp this week:

“The Governor’s assertion in the Tennessean today* that his proposed changes to workers’ comp law and the mismanagement within the Department of Labor and Workforce Development are unrelated is bizarre. The Governor is in charge of both administrative appointments as well as the effective use of taxpayer dollars. It was his choice for administrator of the Department of Labor that led directly to the mismanagement and waste of taxpayer dollars within the department. Now he wants the State House of Representatives to give him the sole authority to appoint an administrator to handle all workers’ comp claims and put that administrator under the Department of Labor?

In light of what we have learned, The Tennessee House of Representatives’ response on Thursday to the Governor’s request to give him the sole authority over the workers’ comp administrative decisions this year should be “Not now, Governor.”

Background:

Findings of the State Comptroller’s Single Audit Report detailing mismanagement, fraud and abuse within the Department of Labor and Workforce Development have surfaced. The Reports states: “The Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s management has threatened the integrity of the Unemployment Insurance Program by failing to provide sufficient internal controls and oversight.” Among the findings include overpayment of $73 million in jobless benefits, administrative delays that left employees bereft of an appeals process, and employers getting charged too much in unemployment premiums paid to the state.

Governor Bill Haslam is pushing changes that will take workers’ comp claims out of the impartial court system and put them directly under the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (HB194 & SB200), beginning in 2014.

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