Gino DiCaro

John Duncan confirmation to DIR held by Perata

By Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications

Capitol Update, May 9, 2008 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

After a lively discussion in the Senate Rules Committee, John C. Duncan’s confirmation as the Director of the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) was put on hold.  Mr. Duncan was appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger on August 9, 2007, but needs official confirmation by the Senate.  The one year deadline is looming.  During the hearing Mr. Duncan received praise from both labor and business. Senate President pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland), however, focused on the Division of Workers’ Compensation’s (DWC) delay in deciding whether permanent disability benefits need to be adjusted.  DWC is a division under DIR.

The Administrator Director for DWC has the authority to re-adjust the Permanent Disability Rating Schedule (PDRS) if sufficient data supports the action. In the past three years, studies have shown a drop in permanent disability benefits, but California still continues to have some of the highest Workers’ Compensation rates in the nation.  Senator Perata asked Mr. Duncan when DWC would release a PDRS report and recommendations for regulatory changes.  These recommendations could result in an increase in PD benefits and an additional cost to employers.

Unfortunately, Mr. Duncan was not able to provide Senator Perata with an exact date or further information on the department’s initial review of the PD data.  The discussion was followed by a long line of supporters that described Mr. Duncan as honest, fair, a straight shooter and always working to keep the lines of communications open.  The California Labor Federation also testified in support of Mr. Duncan but echoed Senator Perata’s concerns on PD.

To conclude the hearing Senator Perata asked that Mr. Duncan provide him and the committee with answers to his questions:  
  1. When will a report on PD benefits be released by DWC,
  2. Will the data support an increase in PD benefits,
  3. When will DWC propose regulations, and
  4. What would the timeframe be for those regulations to be enacted.
Link to John Duncan’s biography:  http://www.dir.ca.gov/director.html

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