Section 17: Powers and duties of advisory council
Section 17. The advisory council shall monitor, recommend, give testimony, and report on all aspects of the workers' compensation system, except the adjudication of particular claims or complaints. Its powers include the issuance of reports, recommendations for legislation, policies and programs, the conducting of research, the collecting of data from public and private sources, and powers granted under the provisions of by chapter one hundred and fifty-two.
The advisory council shall report at least annually in writing by the last day of the fiscal year of the commonwealth to the secretary of labor and workforce development on the state of the workers' compensation system, and shall cause a copy of such report to be filed with the clerks of the house and senate of the general court who shall send copies of such report to the joint committee on commerce and labor and the house and senate committees on ways and means. The report shall include an evaluation of the operations of the department along with recommendations for improving the workers' compensation system. Said advisory council shall also review the annual operating budget of the department, as prepared by the commissioner and as submitted to the secretary of labor and workforce development. Upon the affirmative vote of at least seven voting members, the advisory council may submit its own recommendation for the total operating budget to the secretary of labor and workforce development.
The advisory council shall make an investigation and study of the costs and benefits associated with the institution of competitive rating among workers' compensation insurance carriers. Such study shall consider the effect of open competition on premiums within the various classes of employers and within different geographical regions of the commonwealth and include recommendations concerning the advisability of adopting the practice of competitive rating within test classes or regions for a specific period of time. The council shall also make an investigation and study of the use of credits against insurance premiums and against assessments levied pursuant to section sixty-five of chapter one hundred and fifty-two that encourage rehabilitation and the rehiring of injured workers, and that provide safe workplaces. The council shall also make a study of the practicability of instituting a system by which parties to a dispute under said chapter one hundred and fifty-two may schedule proceedings before the industrial accident board by the use of a ''mark up'', so-called, or similar system. The advisory council shall also make a study of occupational diseases and their relationship to the workers' compensation system.
No later than September first, nineteen hundred and ninety-three the advisory council shall conduct a study to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of adopting an employee's hours worked as a methodology for establishing workers' compensation insurance premiums and conduct a study of the economic impact of changes to the wage replacement rates for partial and temporary total benefits on workers, employers, and insurers.
The advisory council shall also make a continuous investigation and study of worker compensation issues involving public employees, including, but not limited to, the circumstances of public employees not subject to the workers compensation law, and problems resulting from the claims processing time periods for public employees.
The advisory council may expend, for the legal, actuarial, research, clerical, and other expenses involved in the completion of such investigations and studies, such sums as may be appropriated therefor.
The costs of such investigations studies shall be paid from the special fund created under said section sixty-five of said chapter one hundred and fifty-two. Said council shall file the results of its investigations and studies, and its recommendations, if any, together with any drafts of legislation necessary to carry its recommendations into effect with the governor and with the clerks of the house and senate of the general court within eighteen months of its first meeting.