H. R. 623
To establish the National Commission on State Workers' Compensation
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
February 10, 2011
Mr. BACA (for himself, Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. FILNER,
Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. KILDEE, and Mr. STARK) introduced the following bill; which
was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce
To establish the National Commission on State Workers' Compensation
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `National Commission on State Workers' Compensation
Laws Act of 2011'.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
The Congress finds the following:
(1) The full protection of American workers from job-related injury or death
requires an adequate, prompt, and equitable system of workers' compensation
as well as an effective program of occupational health and safety regulation.
(2) The vast majority of American workers and their families are dependent
on workers' compensation for their basic economic security in the event
such workers suffer injury or death in the course of employment.
(3) In 1972, the National Commission on State Workmen's Compensation Laws
found that the system of State workers' compensation laws was `inequitable
and inadequate'. Since that time, changes in reductions in State workers'
compensation laws have increased the inadequacy and inequitable levels of
workers' compensation benefits. Serious questions exist concerning the fairness
and adequacy of present workers' compensation laws in light of the growth
of the economy, changing nature of the labor force, misclassification of
workers as independent contractors, and as leased employees, as well as
erosion of remedies for the bad faith handling and delay in payment of benefits
and medical care to workers and their families, increases in medical knowledge,
changes in the hazards associated with various employment, new risks to
health and safety created by new technology, and increases in the general
level of wages and in the cost of living.
SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.
There is established a commission to be known as the `National Commission
on State Workers' Compensation Laws' (hereinafter in this Act referred to
as the `Commission').
SEC. 4. DUTIES OF COMMISSION.
(a) In General- The duties of the Commission shall be--
(1) to review the findings of the previous National Commission on State
Workmen's Compensation Laws and its recommendations;
(2) to study and evaluate State workers' compensation laws in order to determine
if such laws provide an adequate, prompt, and equitable system of compensation
for injury or death arising out of or in the course of employment; and
(3) to study and evaluate whether additional remedies should be recommended
to ensure prompt and good faith payment of benefits and medical care to
injured workers and their families.
(b) Matters To Be Evaluated and Studied- The study and evaluation under subsection
(a)(2) shall include--
(1) the amount of permanent and temporary disability benefits and the criteria
for determining the maximum limitations of such benefits or the elimination
of such maximum limitations;
(2) a study and evaluation of State workers' compensation laws in order
to determine if, and to ensure that, such laws provide an adequate, prompt,
and equitable system of compensation and medical care for injuries or death
arising in the course of employment;
(3) a study of whether other adequate remedies are available to ensure the
prompt payment of benefits and to reduce or eliminate bad faith delays in
payments of benefits, providing medical care, and discouraging misclassification
of workers as independent contractors and/or leased employees to avoid paying
workers' compensation benefits;
(4) the amount and duration of medical benefits and provisions ensuring
adequate medical care and free choice of physician;
(6) standards for determining assurance of benefits caused by aggravation
or acceleration of preexisting injuries or disease;
(7) time limits on filing claims;
(9) compulsory or elective coverage;
(11) ensuring prompt hearings and due process evidentiary rights in the
resolution of claims;
(12) the relationship between workers' compensation on the one hand, and
old-age, disability, and survivors insurance and other types of insurance
(public or private) on the other hand; and
(13) methods of communicating the recommendations of the Commission.
SEC. 5. MEMBERSHIP.
(a) Number and Appointment- The Commission shall be composed of 14 members,
(1) 1 member, appointed by the President, who shall serve as chairman of
(2) 1 member, appointed by the majority leader of the Senate in consultation
with the majority leader of the House of Representatives, who shall serve
as vice chairman of the Commission.
(3) 2 members appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives.
(4) 2 members appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives.
(5) 2 members appointed by the majority leader of the Senate.
(6) 2 members appointed by the minority leader of the Senate.
(7) The Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of
Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Education shall be ex officio
members of the Commission.
(1) Not more than 6 appointed members of the Commission shall be from the
same political party.
(2) There shall be at all times at least 3 members that represent injured
workers, 3 members that represent insurance carriers or employers, and 1
member of the general public.
(c) Qualifications- It is the sense of Congress that individuals appointed
to the Commission should be United States citizens--
(1) with significant depth of experience--
(A) as members of State workers' compensation boards;
(B) as representatives of insurance carriers, employers, and injured workers;
(C) in the general fields of business and labor;
(2) who are members of the medical profession with experience in industrial
medicine or in workers' compensation cases; and
(3) who are educators having special expertise in the field of workers'
(d) Vacancies- Any member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring before the
expiration of the term for which the member's predecessor was appointed shall
be appointed only for the remainder of that term. A member may serve after
the expiration of that member's term until a successor has taken office. A
vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled
in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.
(e) Quorum- Eight members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum.
(1) The Commission shall hold its initial meeting as soon as practicable.
(2) After its initial meeting, the Commission shall meet upon the call of
the chairman or a majority of its members.
(g) Travel Expenses- While away from their homes or regular places of business
in the performance of services for the Commission, members of the Commission
shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence,
in the same manner as persons employed intermittently in the Government service
are allowed expenses under section 5703(b) of title 5, United States Code.
(1) BASIC PAY- Each member of the Commission may be compensated at a level
not to exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay in effect
for a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315
of title 5, United States Code, for each day during which that member is
engaged in the actual performance of the duties of the Commission.
(2) PROHIBITION OF COMPENSATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES- Members of the Commission
who are full-time officers or employees of the United States or Members
of Congress may not receive additional pay, allowances, or benefits by reason
of their service on the Commission.
SEC. 6. STAFF OF COMMISSION.
(a) Director- The Chairman of the Commission, in consultation with the vice
chairman and in accordance with the rules agreed upon by the Commission, may
appoint a Director. The Director shall be paid at a rate not to exceed the
equivalent of that payable for a position at level V of the Executive Schedule
under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code.
(b) Staff- The Chairman, in consultation with the vice chairman and in accordance
with rules agreed upon by the Commission, may appoint and fix the compensation
of additional personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry
out its functions, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States
Code, governing appointments in the competitive service and without regard
to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title
relating to classification and general schedules pay rates, except that no
rate of pay fixed under this subsection may exceed the equivalent of that
payable for a position at level V of the Executive Schedule under section
5316 of title 5, United States Code.
(c) Experts and Consultants- The Commission is authorized to procure the services
of experts and consultants in accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United
States Code, but at rates not to exceed the daily rate paid to a person occupying
a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title
5, United States Code.
(d) Detailees- Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Commission
without reimbursement from the Commission and such detailee shall retain the
rights, status, and privileges of his or her regular employment without interruption.
(e) Personnel as Federal Employees- The executive director and any personnel
of the Commission who are employees of the Commission shall be treated as
employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes
of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title. The preceding
sentence shall not apply to members of the Commission.
SEC. 7. POWERS OF THE COMMISSION.
(a) Hearings and Evidence- The Commission, or on the authority of the Commission,
any subcommittee or member thereof, may, for the purpose of carrying out this
(1) hold hearings, take testimony, receive evidence, administer oaths; and
(2) subject to subsection (b)(1), require, by subpoena or otherwise, the
attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of books, records,
correspondence, memoranda, papers and documents.
(A) IN GENERAL- A subpoena may be issued under this subsection only--
(i) by the agreement of the chairman and the vice chairman of the Commission;
(ii) by the affirmative vote of 6 members of the Commission.
(B) SIGNATURE- Subject to clause (i) of paragraph (1)(A), subpoenas issued
under this subsection may be issued under the signature of the chairman
or any member designated by a majority of the Commission, and may be served
by any person designated by the chairman or by a member designated by
a majority of the Commission.
(2) FAILURE TO OBEY A SUBPOENA-
(A) IN GENERAL- In the case of contumacy or failure to obey a subpoena
issued under paragraph (1), the United States district court for the judicial
district in which the subpoenaed person resides, is served, or may be
found, or wherever the subpoena is returnable, may issue an order requiring
such person to appear at any designated place to testify or to produce
documentary or other evidence. Any failure to obey the order of the court
may be punished as contempt of that court.
(B) ADDITIONAL ENFORCEMENT- In the case of a failure of any witness to
comply with a subpoena or to testify when summoned under authority of
this subsection, the Committee may, by a majority vote, certify a statement
of fact constituting such failure to the appropriate United States attorney,
who may bring the matter before the grand jury for action, under the same
authority and procedures as if the United States attorney had received
a certification under section 192 through 194 of title 2 of the Revised
Statutes of the United States Code.
(3) CONTRACTING- The Commission may, to such extent and in such amounts
as are made available in appropriation Acts, enter into contracts to enable
the Commission to discharge its duties under this Act.
(4) INFORMATION FROM FEDERAL AGENCIES- The Commission is authorized to secure
directly from any executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission,
office, independent establishment, or instrumentality of the Government,
information, suggestions, estimates, and statics for the purposes of this
Act. Each such department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent
establishment, or instrumentality shall, to the extent authorized by law,
furnish such information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics directly
to the Commission, upon request of the chairman of the Commission, the chairman
of any subcommittee created by a majority of the Commission, or any member
designated by a majority of the Commission.
SEC. 8. REPORTS.
(a) Interim Reports- The Commission may submit to the President and Congress
interim reports containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations
for enhancements and improvements in benefit levels, medical care, and administration
of State workers' compensation systems, for improvements in insurance practices,
and for improvements in dues process and evidentiary hearings and reduction
of bad faith and handling of delays, as have been agreed to by a majority
of Commission members.
(b) Final Reports- Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment
of this Act, the Commission shall submit to the President and Congress a final
report containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for enhancements
and improvements in benefit levels, medical care, and administration of State
workers' compensation systems, for improvements in insurance practices, and
for improvements in due process and evidentiary hearings and reduction of
bad faith handling and delays, as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission
SEC. 9. TERMINATION.
The Commission, and all the authorities of this Act, shall terminate 19 days
after the date on which the final report is submitted under section 8(b).
SEC. 10. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATION.
There are hereby authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary
to carry out the provisions of this Act.