On May 5th, the Legislative session adjourned and both HB7085 and SB1582 died “in the messages”. SB1582 was sponsored by Senator Rob Bradley and addressed issues including workers’ compensation definitions, pleading and adjudication of disputes, calculation of attorney’s fees, insurance rate-making, and expenditures that carriers can make to defend cases. HB7085 was sponsored by Representative Daniel Burgess and addressed issues including the definition of “specificity” under workers’ comp law, the change in appointments to the “3 member panel”, entitlement to temporary benefits, and enhancement of responses by Judges of Compensation Claims to Petitions.
Since the session began on March 7th, the bills were amended numerous times. The Senate passed HB7085 to include Senator Farmer’s proposed amendments thereby essentially stating the original contents of SB1592 and the proposed bill then went back to the House for a vote. At such time, the House passed an amendment to that proposal, essentially resubstituting the language of HB7085, and thus the bill returned to the Senate for consideration once again. However, before the Senate was able to vote, the session ended. It appears that the House and the Senate were each attempting to intertwine the language from their respective bills into the other, which proved to be the demise of both at the end of the session. With the 2018 session beginning on January 9th, we will have to wait to see if the legislature will once again take up workers’ compensation reform.