After Gov. Matt Bevin used his executive authority in May to abolish the Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission at a time when there were six vacancies to fill and then recreated the Commission with all new members, a Kentucky judge is working to block Bevin’s order.
The executive order from Bevin which re-vamped the commission led to a challenge in court by labor unions, who state they fear the new commission will nominate Administrative Law Judges (ALJ’s) more likely to side with business rather than workers.
The Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission nominates ALJ’s who are appointed by the Governor and then confirmed by the Senate. ALJ’s decide if and how much employers pay to workers who were injured on the job.
On Wednesday, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd temporarily blocked the Governor’s Executive Order until he issues a final judgement. Judge Shepherd set a hearing to be held on June 13. He said the primary legal question of the case is the extent of the Governor’s power to remove and replace commissioners who were appointed to serve a term. The Judge also ordered the Commission not to make any recommendations until the final judgment.
The Governor has used his executive authority to replace commissioners on the Kentucky Racing Commission and the Kentucky Horse Park Commission.
The Kentucky Chamber and the business community have long been concerned with increased worker’s compensation costs and believe Kentucky’s workers’ compensation system should be fair to the employee and employer and designed to return the employee to work as soon as medically appropriate.