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Legislation to privatize Maryland's workers comp fund moves forward

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ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Maryland lawmakers are moving forward with legislation that aims to privatize the state's workers compensation fund and require the insurer to repay at least $50 million in surplus funds to the state.

S.B. 745 would require Maryland's Injured Workers' Insurance Fund to restructure itself into a private workers comp insurer named Chesapeake Employers' Insurance Co. The fund has been Maryland's workers comp insurer of last resort since 1914, according to a draft of the legislation.

The bill asks the Maryland Insurance Administration to conduct an independent study to determine what financial benefits the fund has gained from the state. Based on the study results, the state fund would need to pay at least $50 million to Maryland's general revenue fund, plus any additional money determined by the insurance administration review.

The legislation would take effect October 2013, if approved. The bill passed the state Senate on a 35-11 vote earlier this month, and now is being considered by a Maryland House committee.

A separate bill, S.B. 152, also would require $50 million be transferred from the Injured Workers' fund to the Maryland's general fund in June 2013.

The Maryland Senate approved that bill earlier this month and the Maryland House passed the measure on an 88-50 vote last week.