2018 Legislative Update
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Spring Session in Final Month… Bill List Shortens Dramatically
The good news: MASI has helped defeat all legislation we considered to be dangerous to our industry, including many bills that would have burdened our employer members. We applaud our Insurance Chairmen in both the House and Senate, Gary Chism and Videt Carmichael, for their unwavering support each year. Legislation is now dead that would have placed unfunded mandates and burdens on our self-insured workers’ comp and health plans, including a mandate for fertility treatment coverage and a bill to remove the limits on workers’ comp benefits.
The bad news: MASI’s bills to help employers, such as the Workplace Wellness Tax Credit and the Urine Trouble Act, are now dead having failed to gain support in the Senate. In spite of the support of many individual senators, and widespread support in the House, Senate leadership did not allow the bills to move forward. Scroll down for more information.
MASI Lobbies to Restore Fiscal Authority to MWCC
At left, MASI Executive Director Dan Gibson and MWCC Workers’ Comp Commissioner Beth Aldridge meet with Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke and Senator Josh Harkins in an effort to restore fiscal authority to the MWCC. HB789, unanimously passed by the House of Representatives but killed by leadership in the Senate, would have restored fiscal control to the MWCC and shielded the Administrative Expense Fund from being diverted to fund other agencies.
For our employer members, this is a big issue – and an expensive one. In 2016, SB2362 consolidated most state agencies, including the MS Workers’ Compensation Commission, under the State General Fund. This action allowed the state to begin diverting funds from the MWCC Administrative Expense Fund for spending in other areas. This money, collected from self-insured employers, groups and insurance companies for the purpose of running the MWCC, is now no longer protected, and many thousands of dollars have been diverted to other agencies.
As a result, the MWCC has increased assessments in order to remain solvent, and self-insured employers, groups and insurance companies are now having to pay more in annual assessments than they were paying before SB2362 was passed. In 2016, the assessment went from 1.55% of claims to 1.83% of claims. Last year the assessment was 1.80%. For our self-insured employers and groups, these increases, in excess of 15%, have been significant.
MASI has not given up on the issue however – and we will continue working with legislative leaders to address these funding challenges.
MASI’s “Urine Trouble Bill” Flushed by Senate Leadership
In spite of enormous national media attention, and almost unanimous passage by the House, HB1080, the Mississippi Urine Trouble Act, is now dead – down the drain – having been flushed by leadership in the Senate.
All puns aside, this bill would have been a major step forward in safeguarding Mississippi’s Drug-Free Workplace. By outlawing the sale of synthetic human urine, it would have given employers peace of mind to know that their employees could no longer buy this product at Mississippi truck stops, tobacco shops, and other outlets, where it is being sold by the thousands.
We cannot speak for the Senate leadership who killed the bill – it seemed to be a no-brainer. But for some reason, in spite of significant support among individual senators, leadership allowed it to die on the calendar.
MASI will continue to work on this issue, hoping that it can pass next year. The safety of Mississippi workers, motorists, and even school children is at stake. We applaud the House for supporting this bill, especially Rep. Andy Gipson for authoring it – and we urge the Senate to get on board in the future.
MASI’s Workplace Wellness Tax Credit Dies Again
MASI’s Workplace Wellness Tax Credit has died again, in spite of tremendous support in the House, the lack of support by Senate Leadership doomed it to defeat – this time it did not even make it out of committee.
We appreciate the support of House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith who authored the bill, and also Senate Finance Chairman Joey Fillingane who authored it in the Senate.
We are beginning to lose count of how many years Senate leadership has killed this bill. But we will keep trying.
Scroll down to the bottom of this email for a listing of active bills.
MWCC Names Alan C. Goodman Administrative Judge
Judge Goodman received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Mississippi. After graduating from law school in 1992, he was admitted to practice before the Mississippi and Louisiana State Bars where his legal career has consisted of litigation, admiralty and maritime, and workers’ compensation practice. Over the course of his career he has represented insurance companies as well as injured employees in matters pending before the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission.
While in law practice, Judge Goodman served on the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee and the Technology Committee of the Mississippi Bar, and he is currently a member of the Workers’ Compensation section of the Mississippi Bar. Judge Goodman has been a frequent lecturer to attorneys and insurance adjusters on subjects concerning workers’ compensation practice in Mississippi. Judge Goodman joined the Commission as a senior attorney in 2013, before being appointed to serve as an Administrative Judge in 2018.
List of Bills MASI is Watching
Workers’ Comp Bills
Health Insurance/ Health Related Bills
General Insurance Bills
As The Voice of One for self-insured healthcare and workers’ comp in Mississippi, MASI wants to serve you! As in years past, we will be hard at work tracking bills and keeping you informed of the ones that concern you. We will endeavor to safeguard our industry from harmful legislation and over-reaching regulation. If at any time you hear of legislation that concerns you, please do not hesitate to contact us!
As always, thank you for your support of MASI!
Dan M. Gibson, Executive Director
Mississippi Association of Self-Insurers
825 N. President Street
Jackson, Mississippi 39202