FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2018
Alaska Legislature Extends Workers’ Compensation to the Organized Militia
HB 126 Protects Alaskans from Unexpected Financial Liabilities
Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature unanimously approved a bill to extend workers’ compensation coverage to members of Alaska’s organized militia. Members of the Alaska State Defense Force are covered by workers’ compensation when ordered into active state service. However, that protection does not extend during training exercises. House Bill 126 fixes that discrepancy by extending workers compensation to cover injuries incurred during training.
House Bill 126 was introduced by the House Special Committee on Military and Veterans’ Affairs, Chaired by House Majority Leader Representative Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage).
“Sometimes there are easy solutions to issues, and this is one of those times,” said Rep. Tuck. “By expanding workers’ compensation coverage to training, we can protect the men and women who stand ready to defend and help Alaskans at a moment’s notice. This simple change will also save Alaska money, which is important in the face of the state’s current fiscal challenges.”
An example of why HB 126 is needed was a recent leg injury suffered by a member of the Alaska State Defense Force during a training exercise, which left the individual unable to work. Since workers’ compensation was not available, litigation was the only course of action. Although this case was settled out of court, it still cost the state twice the amount of the annual budget of the Alaska State Defense Force.
“Before the passage of House Bill 126 militia members injured while training had very limited recourse to cover the expenses associated with that injury. This resulted in lawsuits against the State that could have been easily avoided if the militia members were covered by workers compensation whenever they are called up, whether it be for state active duty or training,” said Rep. Tuck.
House Bill 126 passed the Alaska State Senate today by a unanimous vote of 18-0. The bill passed the Alaska House of Representatives last year by a unanimous vote of 39-0. HB 126 will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.
For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.