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Alaska lawmakers are considering legislation to eliminate the state’s Workers Compensation Appeals Commission.
S.B. 76, introduced Wednesday by Sen. Bill Wielechowski, D-Anchorage, would repeal the commission and require all petitions for review or appeals of orders of the Alaska Workers Compensation Board that have not been filed by June 1, 2019, to be brought before the Alaska Superior Court.
The Alaska Workers Compensation Appeals Commission has only been in existence in the state since 2005 and its case load has been declining, from 49 cases in 2007 to 20 in 2016, according to Sen. Wielechowski’s office.
Currently, the Workers Compensation Appeals Commission is one of the only administrative appeals systems left in the state, which has a budget deficit estimated at $1.4 billion by Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s office in December 2018.
Moving workers compensation appeals to the Superior Court system — which the senator’s office said can absorb the additional case load without any increase in the budget — could save the state about $400,000 a year.
Starting Jan. 1, Alaska businesses will see an average decrease of 17.5% for workers compensation insurance assigned risk rates, and an average 14.8% decrease for workers compensation voluntary loss costs, according to an approval posted on the state Division of Insurance on Nov. 6.