2005 Regular Session
By: Representative Moak
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 71-3-85, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THAT A MEMBER OF THE WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION SHALL BE AN ATTORNEY AT LAW OF RECOGNIZED ABILITY WITH A MINIMUM OF FIVE YEARS' ACTIVE PRACTICE IN THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI; TO PROVIDE THAT THOSE MEMBERS SERVING AS COMMISSIONERS ON JULY 1, 2005, MAY REMAIN MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION AND MAY BE REAPPOINTED TO THE POSITION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 71-3-85, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
71-3-85. (1) There is hereby created a commission to be known as the Workers' Compensation Commission, consisting of three (3) members, who shall devote their entire time to the duties of the office. The Governor shall appoint the members of the commission, by and with the consent of the Mississippi State Senate, one (1) for a term of two (2) years, one (1) for a term of four (4) years, and one (1) for a term of six (6) years. Upon the expiration of each term as above set forth, the Governor shall appoint a successor for a term of six (6) years, and thereafter the term of office of each commissioner shall be for six (6) years. Until July 1, 2005, one (1) member shall be a person who by reason of his previous vocation or affiliation can be classed as a representative of employers; and one (1) member shall be a person who by reason of his previous vocation or affiliation can be classed as a representative of employees; and one (1) member shall be an attorney at law of recognized ability with at least five (5) years' active practice in Mississippi prior to his appointment. Except as otherwise provided herein, for appointments made after July 1, 2005, each member shall be an attorney at law of recognized ability with at least five (5) years' active practice in Mississippi before his appointment. Those members whose terms have not expired on July 1, 2005, shall continue to serve as members until such time as their terms expire. Any member who was serving on July 1, 2005, may be reappointed as a member regardless of whether or not he is an attorney at law. The Governor shall designate the chairman of the commission, whose term of chairman shall run concurrently with his appointment as a commissioner.
The chairman shall be the administrative head of the commission and shall have the final authority in all matters relating to assignment of cases for hearing and trial and the administrative work of the commission and its employees, except in the promulgation of rules and regulations wherein the commission shall act as a body, and in the trial and determination of cases as otherwise provided.
Upon the expiration of the term of a commissioner, he shall continue to serve until his successor has been appointed. Because cumulative experience is conspicuously essential to the proper administration of a Workers' Compensation Law, it is declared to be in the public interest to continue Workers' Compensation Commissioners in office as long as efficiency is demonstrated. A commissioner may be removed for cause prior to the expiration of his term, but shall be furnished a written copy of the charges against him and shall be accorded a public hearing.
Each member of the commission and each administrative law judge shall receive an annual salary fixed by the Legislature.
(2) A vacancy in the commission, if there remain two (2) members of it, shall not impair the authority of such two (2) members to act. In case of illness or continued absence for other reasons, the same authority of such two (2) members shall apply.
(3) The commission shall have the powers and duties necessary for effecting the purposes of this chapter, including the powers of a court of record for compelling the attendance of witnesses, examining them under oath, and compelling the production of books, papers, documents and objects relevant to the determination of a claim for compensation, and the power to adopt rules and regulations and make or approve the forms relating to notices of injuries, payment of claims and other purposes. The authority of the commission and its duly authorized representatives to investigate and determine claims for compensation shall include the right to enter the premises where an injury occurred, to ascertain its causes and circumstances.
(4) The office of the commission shall be situated in the City of Jackson, but hearings may be held at such places as it may deem most convenient for the proper and speedy performance of its duties. The commission is authorized, if it deems it necessary for the convenient and efficient dispatch of business, to lease office space and facilities in other than publicly owned buildings.
(5) The commission shall adopt detailed rules and regulations for implementing the purposes of this chapter at hearings attended by the main parties interested. Such rules, upon adoption, shall be published and be at all reasonable times made available to the public and, if not inconsistent with law, shall be binding upon those participating in the responsibilities and benefits of the Workers' Compensation Law.
(6) The commission shall adopt or approve the forms required for administering the chapter, such notices of injury, application for benefits, receipts for compensation and all other forms needed to assure the orderly and prompt operation of the law, and may require the exclusive use of any or all such approved forms.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.