Governor Kasich proposes $1 billion rebate for BWC customers
This week, Governor John Kasich and Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer announced a $1 billion rebate proposal for all BWC customers. Under the proposed dividend, more than 210,000 Ohio private employers and public-taxing districts would receive approximately 56 percent of their annual premium in the July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 policy period.
Additionally, the proposal triples investments in workplace safety grants and results in rate reductions of two percent for private employers and four percent for public employers. The Safety Grant Program provides matching funds up to $40,000 for employers to purchase equipment that will substantially reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses. According to the Administration, companies receiving grants have decreased frequency of claims by 66 percent and claims costs per full-time employee have decreased 86 percent. The proposal increases funding for the program from $5 million to $15 million.
Ohio employers currently pay their premiums for the previous six months of coverage. Kasich is requesting legislative approval to allow BWC to implement a prospective billing system, which he said will allow employers to better anticipate budgetary impacts of workers’ compensation coverage. Prospective payments could also allow for more flexible payment options. The agency anticipates this change could occur as early as mid-2014.
“Returning these funds to public and private employers, strengthening worker safety efforts and modernizing operations are the kinds of reforms that help create jobs and they’re the kinds of reforms that my Administration will keep pursuing,” said Kasich.
According to the Administration, the $1.9 billion proposal is made possible by larger than expected fund balances at BWC generated by strong investment management. The BWC Board of Directors could approve the rebate proposal as early as this month, allowing the checks to be distributed as early as June.
Right to Work legislation not likely to move
Two Republican house members introduced Right to Work legislation this week, drawing a number of unions to gather in a protest reminiscent of those during the Senate Bill 5 debates two years ago.
Representative Kristina Roegner (R- Hudson) is the lead sponsor of House Bill 151 which prohibits private workers from mandatory union membership or fair share payments, while House Bill 152, sponsored by Representative Ron Maag (R- Lebanon), would address public workers. Both members are lead sponsors of a joint resolution to place the issues on the ballot.
The legislators said the so-called workplace freedom bills aim to empower workers. Both bills have 15 Republican co-sponsors, but are not likely to receive consideration. Following a meeting with the governor and House Speaker Bill Batchelder, Senate President Keith Faber released a statement clarifying that Right to Work legislation is not on his chamber’s agenda. “After discussions with other leaders and my caucus, I don’t believe there is current support for this issue in the General Assembly,” Faber added.
Legislation considered this week
Sweepstakes Cafes: Sponsored by Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina), Senate Bill 115 will extend the moratorium on new establishments conducting sweepstakes by sweepstakes terminal devices, and will require establishments to file a new affidavit. The bill passed the Senate on May 1, 2013 with the inclusion of an emergency clause which would make the bill effective immediately.
BWC Premium Rates: Sponsored by Representatives Tony DeVitis (R-Uniontown) and Jim Butler (R-Oakwood), House Bill 143 would require the Workers' Compensation Administrator's Notice of Premium to include the mathematical equation used to determine the employer's premium rate. The bill was introduced on April 30, 2013.
Brine Injection: Sponsored by Representative Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati), House Bill 148 would prohibit land application and deep well injection of brine.
Technology Tax Credits: Sponsored by Minority Leader Eric Kearney (D-Cincinnati), Senate Bill 120 would increase the total amount of credits that may be awarded under the Technology Investment Tax Credit Program from $45 million to $145 million. The bill was introduced on May 2, 2013.
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Rebecca M. Kuhns
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