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Advocacy In Annapolis 2010


requirement of payment of a malpractice award in excess of $100,000 by periodic payments under an annuity or annuities purchased by the defendant or its insurer. Te bill contained many of the unconscionable provisions proposed during the 2004 Special Session by the Ehrlich Administration. Tis bill, like HB 1157, failed in committee by a vote of 15 to 6.


V. Workers’ Compensation Legislation


27 Workers’ Compensation bills were introduced. As has been the case over the last 8 to 9 years, contested workers’ compensation proposals do not pass without substantial agreement among the claimant and defense bars, and the various insurers. 2010 was no exception.


HB 968


Workers’ Compensation – Appeal – Evidence. Te proposed legislation would have allowed parties who have been subjected to an appeal of a Workers’ Compensation Commission decision to use medical records, instead of expensive live testimony, under limited circumstances. Te intent of the bill was to restore the original intent of the legislature when the workers’ compensation appeal process was enacted, i.e., the process is intended to be informal and summary. Te bill was defeated in committee.


HB 751 and SB 609


Workers’ Compensation - Temporary Total Disability Benefits – Credit. Tese bills would have given the employer or insured a credit against any future disability payment for temporary total disability payments paid to an employee when medical treatment is delayed or suspended due to an injury, medical condition or disease unrelated to the compensable injury or occupational disease. Fortunately MAJ was able to get these bills tied up after each had passed in their respective chambers and, as a result, they failed. Tese two bills are unconscionable measures which impact unfairly on workers, with virtually no resulting reduction in premium costs. If MAJ is to continue to defeat this legislation in the future, its members must become active in contacting their senators and delegates urging them to vote against the proposal.


SB 608 Workers’ Compensation - Temporary Total Disability - Incarcerated Employees. Tis bill provided that an employer or insurer is not required to pay compensation to a covered employee while they are incarcerated. Te bill failed.


SB 610


Workers’ Compensation - Jurisdiction Pending Appeal - Proposed Settlement. Tis bill would have expanded the circumstances under which the Workers’ Compensation Committee would retain jurisdiction pending an appeal to include a request to approve a propose settlement of all or a part of a claim. Te bill passed in the Senate, but failed to be voted in the House Economic Matters Committee.


HB 1318 and SB 953


Workers’ Compensation – Death Benefits – Dependency. Tese two bills were introduced following an interim study under the auspices of the Workers’ Compensation Commission in which every segment of the industry (employers, self-insureds, insurers, both the claimant and defense bars, as well as the Commission) participated. With agreement of all but a couple of self-insured counties, HB 1318 and SB 953 were introduced. Te bills would have changed the formula for calculation of compensation paid to surviving spouses and children to proportionately reflect family income. Te bills appeared to be on their way to passage when the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO), and a couple of counties, convinced the Chair of the Finance Committee that the bills would severely and negatively affect self-insured municipalities. As a result SB 953 had terrible amendments placed on it in committee, and it took a strong lobbying effort to get the bill re-referred to the Finance Committee. As a result this very important measure failed.


T


he success of the 2010 Legislative Session could not have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of Governor Martin O’Malley and the General Assembly


with special thanks going out to Senate President Tomas V. “Mike” Miller, Jr., House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Chairman Tomas “Mac” Middleton, Chairman Brian E. Frosh, Chairman Dereck E. Davis, Chairman Joseph F. Vallario, Jr. and all of the committee members of the Senate Finance, Senate Judicial Proceedings, House Economic Matters and House Judiciary. Our lobbying team was exceptional to which we are both proud and grateful: Dan Doherty, Fran Doherty and Frank Boston. Our legislative team was tireless and dedicated with many unsung heroes to thank: John B. Bratt; Kevin I. Goldberg; Andrew H. Kahn; James K. MacAlister; Eric N. Schloss; George S. Tolley, III; Wayne M. Willoughby and Laura G. Zois. John B. Bratt was our Rookie of the Year and James K. MacAlister was our Most Valuable Player, always ready to testify on any topic and always willing to research and write position papers without advance notice. A special thanks goes to PAC Chair, Bruce M. Plaxen, whose leadership and sage advice are indispensable.


You, the membership, also deserve credit. Many of you testified, or contacted your representatives. Your voice was heard, loud and clear. Te power change in Annapolis is palpable. More legislative doors are open to us; more legislators, at all levels, are listening.


We will continue to protect Marylanders from those who seek to erode the rights of victims. Good things happened during the 2010 Session because of the hard work and dedication of our elected officials. Leadership begins at the top and we must work feverishly hard to re-elect our Governor, Martin O’Malley, in order to continue with our legislative success.


Robert J. Zarbin MAJ Legislative Committee Chair 2010


Maryland Association for Justice, Inc. • 6240 Old Dobbin Lane, Suite 100 • Columbia, Maryland 21045 • (410) 872-0990 • www.marylandassociationforjustice.com


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