Capitol Week-in-Review – July 6, 2017

OCI Approves Reduction in Worker’s Compensation Rates

Last Tuesday, the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance approved an overall 8.46% rate decrease for Worker’s Compensation (WC) premiums for business this year. Some specific industries, like manufacturing, will see even greater decreases of 9.28%. This overall decrease represents a savings of nearly $170 million for employers.

Worker’s Compensation rates are adjusted annually by a committee of actuaries from the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau (WCRB). The committee studies the prior losses (claims) of hundreds of categories and professions throughout the state’s employment pool and submits a rate recommendation to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) who has final approval over the rates.

The reduction in Worker’s Compensation rates is attributable to improvements in workplace safety and Wisconsin employers are being rewarded for their collective efforts to operate a safe workplace for their employees.

Members who have questions about the development of the rates should contact the Wisconsin Compensation Ratings Bureau at 262-796-4540.

Governor Enacts Work Permit Reform Legislation

Since early February, WIB has been lobbying in support of legislation that would make it easier for small, independent businesses to hire high school students. Our persistence has been rewarded.

Two weeks ago, Governor Walker signed into law the so-called Teen Employment Act which eliminates the requirement that minors aged 16 or 17 olds obtain a work permit for the Wisconsin Division of Equal Rights before being allowed to work in any job with the exception of agriculture or domestic service work.

2017 Wisconsin Act 11 does not change the times of the day that minors can work, the number of hours a minor is allowed to work or the minimum statutory ages established for different types of employment.

State Budget at an Impasse

Wisconsin lawmakers are struggling to reach consensus on the state’s next two-year budget for the Departments of Public Instruction and Transportation. There are also some areas of disagreement over state tax code changes.

Wisconsin’s two-year budget cycle ended on June 30 and lawmakers have missed the July 1 deadline to have a new one in place. In the absence of a new biennial budget, the State of Wisconsin operates under the spending levels set forth in the 2015-2017 state budget.