HELENA - The Economic Affairs Interim Committee of the Montana Legislature will meet April 26 on issues ranging from liquor law changes to studies on unemployment and emergency care. On April 27 the members will convene as a subcommittee to hear options for restructuring Montana’s workers’ compensation system. Both meetings will be in Room 137 of the state Capitol.
The April 26 meeting will start at 1 p.m. and feature an overview of the state’s Liquor Control Division plus requested updates to laws that allow auctions of state liquor or beer and wine licenses rather than a lottery when population growth enables the state to issue more licenses.
The committee will spend part of its meeting considering recommendations for two studies, one on the barriers to employment in Montana and the other on emergency care services, particularly as related to veterans. If members do not provide recommendations, they can make suggestions for further review.
Separately, the committee will hear updates from the State Auditor’s Office related to legislation passed in 2017 on air ambulances.
The State Auditor’s Office will be before the committee again on April 27 to review the status of workers’ compensation insurers in Montana regarding their ability to pay claims in the future (solvency) and the new premium rates that all workers’ compensation insurers have filed for the insurance year that, for most premium payers, starts July 1, 2018.
The April 27 presentations also will include explanations from Montana State Fund (MSF) about its financial status and what any changes in Montana’s workers’ compensation structure would mean in terms of MSF premiums. A similar presentation is on tap for those who want changes in the current workers’ compensation structure, a group that includes proponents known as FAIR Montana and representatives of Montana’s only other locally domiciled workers’ compensation insurer, Victory Insurance.
A representative of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) will review premium components and how individual insurers differ in their rates. A separate NCCI representative will be available for questions on how other states use alternative mechanisms to make sure that workers’ compensation is available for businesses if insurers refuse to provide coverage voluntarily.
Subcommittee members will be asked to choose whether they want their final discussions on the MSF study (Senate Joint Resolution 27) to cover slight changes in the system or more major changes like making MSF into a private company or dissolving MSF.
The public will have opportunity to comment on both April 26 and April 27. The meetings are to be live-streamed on the legislative website http://leg.mt.gov/css/default.asp and available through TVMT broadcasting. Check local channel listings to find the TVMT channel.
For more information about the meetings, including agendas, visit the committee’s website or contact Pat Murdo, committee staff.