In proceedings before the commission, interested parties are encouraged to enter into settlements of their disputes. If a settlement is reached before a contested case hearing has been ordered and the commission rejects the settlement, the commission shall order a contested case hearing if a significant issue has not been resolved to the commission's satisfaction. When a contested case hearing has been ordered under this chapter, the Office of Administrative Hearings, before conducting the hearing, shall convene a settlement conference including all the parties to encourage settlement of issues in the contested case. If a stipulated settlement is not reached before the contested case hearing, the Office of Administrative Hearings may, at its discretion or a party's request, reconvene the settlement conference during the hearing or after its completion. If all parties agree to a stipulated settlement of the case or a part of the case, the settlement must be submitted to the commission.
The commission may accept a settlement upon finding that to do so is in the public interest and is supported by substantial evidence. If the commission does not accept a settlement, it may issue an order modifying the settlement, subject to the approval of the parties. A party has ten days after entry of the order, or of an order disposing of a petition for reconsideration, in which to reject the proposed modification. If no party rejects the proposed modification, the commission's order becomes final. If the commission rejects a settlement or if a party rejects the commission's proposed modification of a settlement, the matter must be referred to the administrative law judge assigned to the case for further proceedings.