The Business, Labor and Economic Affairs committee of the Montana Senate is scheduled to have hearings on two workers' compensation bills during the 8 a.m. session on January 12, 2015.
Both bills are sponsored by Senator Tom Facey (D) of Missoula. SB 3 proposes to lower the impairment threshold for accessing vocational rehabilitation benefits from the current 15% to 10%. The threshold is the gatekeeper for accessing up to 104 weeks of vocational rehabilitation benefits by workers who have not suffered a permanent wage loss.
SB 4 proposes to allow the Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court to appoint a temporary workers' compensation judge in the event of a vacancy while the process to appoint a permanent judge is ongoing. People familiar with workers' compensation in Montana will recall this past summer that the judicial post was vacant from early May until early September while the Judicial Nomination Commission and Governor considered applications.
The Business, Labor and Economic Affairs committee is a 10-person committee composed of 6 Republicans and 4 Democrats and chaired by Ed Buttrey (R) of Great Falls.