as introduced - 83rd Legislature (2003 - 2004) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am
1.1 A bill for an act 1.2 relating to state government; the Office of 1.3 Administrative Hearings; restricting the use of 1.4 administrative law and workers' compensation judges to 1.5 the division in which they were hired; regulating 1.6 allocation of expenses between divisions; establishing 1.7 goals; limiting the use of temporary judges in the 1.8 workers' compensation division; requiring judges in 1.9 Duluth; regulating the conducting of hearings; 1.10 appropriating money; amending Minnesota Statutes 2002, 1.11 sections 14.48, subdivision 3, by adding subdivisions; 1.12 14.49; 14.50; 176.306, subdivision 1. 1.13 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 1.14 Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2002, section 14.48, 1.15 subdivision 3, is amended to read: 1.16 Subd. 3. [ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES AND COMPENSATION 1.17 JUDGES.] (a) All administrative law judges and compensation 1.18 judges shall be in the classified service except that the chief 1.19 administrative law judge shall be in the unclassified service, 1.20 but may be removed only for cause. 1.21 (b) All administrative law judges and workers' compensation 1.22 judges must be learned in the law and must be free of any 1.23 political or economic association that would impair their 1.24 ability to function in a fair and impartial manner. 1.25 Administrative law judges shall have demonstrated knowledge of 1.26 administrative procedures and workers' compensation judges shall 1.27 have demonstrated knowledge of workers' compensation laws. 1.28 (c)
The appointment of individuals as workers' compensation1.29 judges or as administrative law judges does not preclude the2.1 chief administrative law judge from establishing a system of2.2 training to enable them to acquire demonstrable knowledge and to2.3 become qualified to conduct hearings in the area other than the2.4 area of their original appointment. Conducting hearings in the2.5 other area does not affect an administrative law judge's or2.6 workers' compensation judge's job class established pursuant to2.7 section 43A.07 or seniority within that job class. The chief2.8 administrative law judge shall annually notify the Department of2.9 Finance of the amount of credit payable to the workers'2.10 compensation special fund for time spent by workers'2.11 compensation judges on noncompensation2.12 proceedings.Administrative law judges and workers' 2.13 compensation judges may only conduct hearings and conferences in 2.14 the areas of their original appointments. The chief 2.15 administrative law judge and deputy chief administrative law 2.16 judge may conduct workers' compensation hearings and conferences 2.17 only if at the time of their appointments they had a 2.18 demonstrated knowledge of workers' compensation laws. 2.19 (d) Administrative law judges and compensation judges are 2.20 subject to the provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. 2.21 Administrative law and compensation judges may, however, serve 2.22 as a member of a governmental board when so directed by the 2.23 legislature. The chief administrative law judge shall provide 2.24 training to administrative law and compensation judges about the 2.25 requirements of the code and shall apply the provisions of the 2.26 code to their actions. Only administrative law judges serving 2.27 as temporary judges under a written contract are considered to 2.28 be part-time judges for purposes of the code. Reports required 2.29 to be filed by the code must be filed with the chief 2.30 administrative law judge. The chief administrative law judge 2.31 shall apply the provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct, to 2.32 the extent applicable, to the other administrative law and 2.33 compensation judges in a manner consistent with interpretations 2.34 made by the Board on Judicial Standards. The chief 2.35 administrative law judge shall follow the procedural 2.36 requirements of the commissioner's plan for state employees if 3.1 any adverse personnel action is taken based in whole or in part 3.2 as a violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct. 3.3 (e) In addition to other duties provided by law, workers' 3.4 compensation and administrative law judges may mediate, 3.5 arbitrate, or take other appropriate action on matters referred 3.6 to the Office of Administrative Hearings by any member of the 3.7 federal or state judicial branch or by the Workers' Compensation 3.8 Court of Appeals, except that they may do so only in the areas 3.9 of their original appointments. 3.10 Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2002, section 14.48, is amended 3.11 by adding a subdivision to read: 3.12 Subd. 5. [ALLOCATION OF EXPENSES BETWEEN DIVISIONS.] All 3.13 salaries and expenses for administrative law judges must be 3.14 allocated to the administrative law division. All salaries and 3.15 expenses for workers' compensation judges must be allocated to 3.16 the workers' compensation division. When acting in an 3.17 administrative or supervisory capacity, the salaries and 3.18 expenses for the chief and deputy chief administrative law 3.19 judges must be allocated between the administrative law and 3.20 workers' compensation division on a reasonable basis. When 3.21 acting as administrative law judges, the salaries and expenses 3.22 for the chief and deputy chief administrative law judges must be 3.23 allocated solely to the administrative law division. When 3.24 acting as workers' compensation judges, the salaries and 3.25 expenses for the chief and deputy chief administrative law 3.26 judges must be allocated solely to the workers' compensation 3.27 division. The salaries and expenses of the clerical and 3.28 professional staff must be allocated to the division in which 3.29 they work. The salaries and expenses of the clerical and 3.30 professional staff who work in both divisions must be allocated 3.31 between the two divisions on a reasonable basis that reflects 3.32 the amount of work done for each division. Judges may not work 3.33 in both divisions, except that the chief and deputy chief 3.34 administrative law judges may perform administrative and 3.35 supervisory functions in both divisions. Salaries and other 3.36 expenses allocated to the administrative law division must be 4.1 paid from the administrative hearings account. Salaries and 4.2 other expenses allocated to the workers' compensation division 4.3 shall be paid from funds appropriated from the special 4.4 compensation fund. 4.5 Sec. 3. Minnesota Statutes 2002, section 14.48, is amended 4.6 by adding a subdivision to read: 4.7 Subd. 6. [GOAL FOR THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION 4.8 DIVISION.] (a) Reasonable goals for the Office of Administrative 4.9 Hearings may be established regarding the conduct of conferences 4.10 and hearings. The Office of Administrative Hearings shall 4.11 strive to attain the goals in paragraphs (b) to (j) when actions 4.12 of the parties that cause delays do not make it difficult or 4.13 impossible to attain them. 4.14 (b) Hearings for claim petitions should be held within 12 4.15 months of the filing of the claim petition. 4.16 (c) Hearings for claim petitions for which hardship status 4.17 has been granted should be held by the latest of the following: 4.18 (1) 60 days after the granting of hardship status; 4.19 (2) 65 days after all potential intervenors have been 4.20 notified of their potential intervention interest; and 4.21 (3) 35 days after all independent medical examinations have 4.22 taken place. 4.23 (d) Settlement conferences should be held within 150 days 4.24 of the filing of the claim petition. 4.25 (e) When a request is made to reschedule a conference, it 4.26 should be rescheduled to be held within 30 days, or if a longer 4.27 time is requested, within 14 days of the requested date. 4.28 (f) Administrative conferences conducted under section 4.29 176.239 should be held within 30 days of receiving the request 4.30 for the conference. 4.31 (g) Administrative conferences conducted under section 4.32 176.106 should be held within 45 days of receiving the medical 4.33 request or rehabilitation request unless the matter is scheduled 4.34 for a hearing without a conference. 4.35 (h) Hearings held under section 176.239 should be held 4.36 within 60 days of the filing of an objection to discontinuance 5.1 or a petition to discontinue. 5.2 (i) Hearings held under section 176.106 should be held 5.3 within 60 days of the filing of a request for formal hearing, or 5.4 when an administrative conference will not be scheduled, within 5.5 60 days of the receipt of the medical request or rehabilitation 5.6 request. 5.7 (j) Ninety percent of all claims petitions, other than 5.8 those that are to be scheduled for hearing at a site other than 5.9 Minneapolis, and those for which hardship status has been 5.10 granted, should be assigned to a compensation judge using the 5.11 block system under section 176.307. 5.12 (k) The chief administrative law judge shall report by 5.13 January 31 of each year to the chairs of the legislative 5.14 committees with jurisdiction over state government and workers' 5.15 compensation policy and finance regarding the ability of the 5.16 office to meet the goals in paragraphs (b) to (j) in the 5.17 preceding year. The chief administrative law judge shall 5.18 include in the report an assessment of whether the office has an 5.19 adequate number of judges to meet the goals. 5.20 Sec. 4. Minnesota Statutes 2002, section 14.49, is amended 5.21 to read: 5.22 14.49 [TEMPORARY ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGES.] 5.23 When regularly appointed administrative law judges or 5.24 compensation judges are not available, the chief administrative 5.25 law judge may contract with qualified individuals to serve as 5.26 administrative law judges or compensation judges. Such 5.27 temporary administrative law judges or compensation judgesshall 5.28 not be employees of the state. The chief administrative law 5.29 judge may appoint a temporary workers' compensation judge only 5.30 if all regularly appointed workers' compensation judges are 5.31 disqualified from conducting a hearing for an employee. The 5.32 temporary workers' compensation judge may only conduct a hearing 5.33 for that employee. The temporary workers' compensation judge 5.34 must be learned in the law and shall have demonstrated knowledge 5.35 of workers' compensation laws. 5.36 Sec. 5. Minnesota Statutes 2002, section 14.50, is amended 6.1 to read: 6.2 14.50 [HEARINGS BEFORE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE.] 6.3 All hearings of state agencies required to be conducted 6.4 under this chapter shall be conducted by an administrative law 6.5 judge assigned by the chief administrative law judge or by a6.6 workers' compensation judge assigned by the chief administrative6.7 law judge as provided in section 14.48. All hearings required 6.8 to be conducted under chapter 176 shall be conducted by a 6.9 compensation judge assigned by the chief administrative law 6.10 judge or by an administrative law judge assigned by the chief6.11 administrative law judge as provided in section 14.48. In 6.12 assigning administrative law judges or compensation judges to 6.13 conduct such hearings, the chief administrative law judge shall 6.14 attempt to utilize personnel having expertise in the subject to 6.15 be dealt with in the hearing. Only administrative law judges 6.16 learned in the law shall be assigned to contested case hearings. 6.17 Only compensation judges shall be assigned to workers' 6.18 compensation matters. It shall be the duty of the judge to: 6.19 (1) advise an agency as to the location at which and time during 6.20 which a hearing should be held so as to allow for participation 6.21 by all affected interests; (2) conduct only hearings for which 6.22 proper notice has been given; (3) see to it that all hearings 6.23 are conducted in a fair and impartial manner. Except in the 6.24 case of workers' compensation hearings involving claims for 6.25 compensation it shall also be the duty of the administrative law 6.26 judge to make a report on each proposed agency action in which 6.27 the administrative law judge functioned in an official capacity, 6.28 stating findings of fact and conclusions and recommendations, 6.29 taking notice of the degree to which the agency has (i) 6.30 documented its statutory authority to take the proposed action, 6.31 (ii) fulfilled all relevant substantive and procedural 6.32 requirements of law or rule, and (iii) in rulemaking 6.33 proceedings, demonstrated the need for and reasonableness of its 6.34 proposed action with an affirmative presentation of facts. 6.35 Sec. 6. Minnesota Statutes 2002, section 176.306, 6.36 subdivision 1, is amended to read: 7.1 Subdivision 1. [CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE.] The chief 7.2 administrative law judge shall schedule workers' compensation 7.3 hearings on as regular a schedule as may be practicable in no 7.4 fewer than six widely separated locations throughout the state, 7.5 including at least four locations outside of the seven county 7.6 metropolitan area and Duluth, for the purpose of providing a 7.7 convenient forum for parties to a compensation hearing and shall 7.8 maintain a permanent office in Duluth staffed by at least one7.9 three compensation judgejudges. Except as provided in this 7.10 subdivision, all hearings shall be conducted with the judge, the 7.11 attorneys, and all witnesses, while testifying, present in the 7.12 room where the hearing takes place. If the only issue to be 7.13 decided at a hearing relates to attorney fees, and the employee 7.14 does not object to the attorney fees, the hearing may be 7.15 conducted by telephone. If all parties consent, the judge, the 7.16 attorneys, and the witnesses may participate in the hearing from 7.17 remote locations with the use of teleconferencing technology. 7.18 The chief administrative law judge shall adjust the travel 7.19 schedule of the judges so that hearings are not delayed if they 7.20 are held outside of Minneapolis. Continuances of the scheduled 7.21 hearing date may be granted only under section 176.341, 7.22 subdivision 4. 7.23 Sec. 7. [APPROPRIATION.] 7.24 $250,000 in fiscal year 2004 and $750,000 in fiscal year 7.25 2005 are appropriated from the special compensation fund to the 7.26 Office of Administrative Hearings for additional compensation 7.27 judges. 7.28 Sec. 8. [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 7.29 Sections 1 to 7 are effective the day following final 7.30 enactment.