Workers’ Compensation Reform Passes the Alaska Legislature

HB 79 Clearly Defines Independent Contractors in State Law for the First Time in State History

Juneau – Today, the Alaska Legislature passed legislation put forward by Alaska Governor Bill Walker to improve Alaska’s workers’ compensation system. House Bill 79 allows for electronic filing, reduces administrative costs, more clearly defines ‘independent contractor’, and provide adequate funding to administer the workers’ compensation system.

“By clarifying the distinction between independent contractors and employees, we help prevent good actors from going out of business from fines. We also make it more difficult for bad actors to fraudulently avoid paying workers’ compensation insurance,” said Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), who carried the bill on the House Floor during today’s concurrence vote. “When defining ‘independent contractors’ the Governor’s office and the Legislature worked extensively with Alaskan business owners to reach a consensus that works for everyone.”

In addition to the independent contractor definition, HB 79 does several other things including streamlining the process for obtaining a corporate exemption from workers’ compensation coverage. With the passage of HB 79, corporate officers will no longer be required to undergo an extensive paperwork process to obtain an exemption if they have a 10 percent ownership share of the corporation.

HB 79 also modernizes the administration of the workers’ compensation system by allowing businesses to report data and make payments electronically, which is a convenience long overdue for both employers and the Division of Workers’ Compensation.

The bill also increases funding for the Workers’ Compensation Safety Administrative Account. Without legislative action, the Safety Administrative Account would experience a shortfall by fiscal year 2020. Funding for the account is vital because it provides for the medical services review committee, the workers’ compensation appeals commission, and the fraud unit that tracks down fraud and abuse of the workers’ compensation system.

“House Bill 79 improves the efficiency of the workers’ compensation system and makes it more equitable. I am proud to support this reform effort that is both fair to Alaskan business owners and workers alike. I applaud the administration for their tireless work on this issue,” said Rep. Josephson.

House Bill 79 passed the Alaska State Senate Friday by a vote of 19-0. The House concurred to the Senate changes today by a vote of 34-6. The bill will now be sent to Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature. 

For more information, please contact Megan Holland in Rep. Josephson’s office at (907) 465-4939.

Mike Mason
Press Secretary, Alaska House Majority Coalition
Phone: (907) 444-0889

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