As previously reported, a number of bills making changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act are winding their way through the General Assembly. Two of the remaining bills have either been tabled or referred to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC).
HB 1631 (Bulova) / SB 1088 (Ebbin) would allow dispatchers to claim workers’ compensation benefits relating to post-traumatic stress disorder under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Currently, only law-enforcement officers and firefighters may claim such benefits. This bill would result in higher insurance costs to local governments. VACo does not oppose the policy intent of the bills but has testified in opposition to the legislation as it is a significant unfunded mandate. SB 1088 reported from Senate Finance and Appropriations. VACo also testified on HB 1631, which was eventually referred to the House Appropriations Compensation and Retirement Subcommittee. On February 1, the subcommittee voted 4-3 to table the legislation and refer it to JLARC for inclusion in their study of public safety officer enhanced retirement benefits. SB 1088 will likely meet a similar fate if it crosses over to the House.
HB 1905 (Batten) would establish a workers’ compensation presumption for back, hip, knee, and neck injuries that cause the death or disability of law-enforcement officers, as defined in the bill, who have completed five years of service and are required to wear a duty belt, as defined in the bill, as a condition of employment. This bill would significantly increase local government risk insurer liability, which would in turn result in higher insurance costs to local governments. VACo does not oppose the policy intent of the bill but testified in opposition to the legislation as it is a significant unfunded mandate. The bill was heard by Subcommittee #2 of the House Commerce and Energy Committee on January 26, which voted unanimously 10-0 to lay the bill on the table.
VACo Contact: Jeremy R. Bennett