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Introduced Version House Bill 2945 History

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hb2945 intr
H. B. 2945


          (By Delegates Mr. Speaker (Mr. Thompson),
               Caputo, Boggs, Lynch, Young, Skinner,
               Tomblin, Barrett, Sponaugle, White and Miley)
          [Introduced March 15, 2013; referred to the
          Committee on Finance.]


A BILL to amend and reenact §12-4-14a of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto a new section, designated §33-3-33a, all relating to the distribution of state funds to volunteer fire departments under the Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Subsidy Program generally; specifying that the subsidy provided to volunteer fire departments to offset certain workers' compensation premium increases apply to increases attributable to the fire fighting service, rapid response emergency medical service, ambulance service and diving service components of the services provided by volunteer fire departments; establishing the Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Premium Subsidy Fund and providing revenues to be deposited into the fund for the program; and requiring reviews, assessments and reports to the Legislature prior to termination of the program.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
     That §12-4-14a of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that said code be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §33-3-33a, all to read as follows:
CHAPTER 12. PUBLIC MONEYS AND SECURITIES.

ARTICLE 4. ACCOUNTS, REPORTS AND GENERAL PROVISIONS.
§12-4-14a. Workers' Compensation Subsidy for Volunteer Fire Departments; creation of program; Auditor to administer.

     (a) For the purposes of this section:
     (1) "Fiscal year" means the fiscal year of the state.
     (2) "Individual base year premium" means the workers' compensation insurance individual premium that became due and payable by a volunteer fire department after June 30, 2010, but before July 1, 2011.
     (3) "Individual premium" means the workers' compensation insurance premium due and payable by a volunteer fire department for fire fighting services, rapid response emergency medical services, ambulance services or diving services provided by the volunteer fire department in each twelve month period beginning on or after July 1, 2011.
     (4) "Total base year premium" means the aggregate workers' compensation insurance premium due and payable by all volunteer fire departments for fire fighting services, rapid response emergency medical services, ambulance services or diving services provided by the volunteer fire departments as determined by the Insurance Commissioner after June 30, 2010, but before July 1, 2011.
     (5) "Total premium" means the aggregate workers' compensation insurance premium due and payable by all volunteer fire departments for fire fighting services, rapid response emergency medical services, ambulance services or diving services provided by the volunteer fire departments in each twelve month period beginning on or after July 1, 2011.
     (b) In recognition of the burden of increasing workers' compensation insurance premiums on volunteer fire departments, the Legislature has determined that additional funding assistance should be made available to eligible departments to pay a portion of those premium increases beginning with invoices due and payable on or after July 1, 2011.
     (c) There is hereby established a special program which shall be known as the "Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Subsidy Program." The program shall be administered by the State Auditor from moneys that may be appropriated and designated for the program by the Legislature pursuant to this section and section thirty-three-a, article three, chapter thirty-three of this code.
     (d) The State Auditor shall administer the distribution of moneys appropriated for Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Subsidy Program to volunteer fire departments to help defray workers' compensation insurance premium increases.
     (1) Volunteer fire departments shall request supplemental funds by submitting to the Auditor the following information:
     (A) The previous fiscal year's workers' compensation premium invoices with paid receipts;
     (B) The current fiscal year's workers' compensation premium invoices showing the amount due and due date and any applicable paid receipts; and
     (C) Any other information the Auditor deems necessary for administering the subsidy on forms and schedules as the Auditor directs. The Auditor is authorized to set up an electronic filing system at his or her discretion for filing of the aforementioned information.
     (2) After determining that there is a premium increase and the amount of the premium increase for the volunteer fire department requesting the subsidy, the Auditor shall make disbursements in the manner set forth in subsection (e) of this section subject to the following requirements:
     (A) The volunteer fire department must be in good standing with the State Fire Marshal;
     (B) The volunteer fire department must be registered with the Auditor's Office in a form and manner prescribed by the Auditor prior to being eligible for consideration of any subsidy, which registration must be completed no fewer than thirty days prior to the due date of the workers' compensation premium;
     (C) The volunteer fire department must agree that the subsidy for its workers' compensation insurance premium increase will be paid directly to its insurance carrier by the Auditor and that it will timely pay the balance of the premium due; and
     (D) Should a volunteer fire department fail to pay the balance of its workers' compensation insurance premium after a disbursement by the Auditor and that insurance policy is subsequently cancelled, the premium paid by the Auditor shall be returned directly to him or her. If the Auditor does not receive a reimbursement for a cancelled policy, he or she shall seek reimbursement for the subsidy portion of the insurance premium from the State Treasurer when the Treasurer makes the next quarterly payment to the volunteer fire department pursuant to sections thirty-three and fourteen-d, article three, chapter thirty-three of this code.
     (e) Beginning with the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2011, and continuing in each fiscal year thereafter, after the Auditor has verified that a volunteer fire department is eligible for a subsidy pursuant to this section, he or she shall pay on behalf of a volunteer fire department its subsidy, which is calculated by:
     (1) Dividing the total amount of premium subsidy allocated by the Legislature to the Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Subsidy Program by the total premium minus the total base year premium, which calculation produces the "total shortfall multiplier"; and
     (2) Multiplying the total shortfall multiplier determined in subdivision (1) of this subsection by the individual premium less the individual base year premium.
     (3) In no event shall a volunteer fire department receive a workers' compensation premium subsidy greater than one hundred percent of its premium increase.
     (f) For fiscal years after July 1, 2011, the Auditor shall consult with the Insurance Commissioner to determine the total amount of workers' compensation premium due by volunteer fire departments for any subsequent fiscal year. The Auditor may determine payment dates based upon information reasonably available for such a determination.
     (g) The Auditor may promulgate emergency rules and may propose for promulgation legislative rules, in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code, as are necessary to provide for implementation and enforcement of the provisions of this section.
     (h) The volunteer fire departments' workers' compensation premium subsidy program shall undergo a review to assess its effectiveness after three years of operation. The Auditor shall submit a report to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance not later than February 1, 2015, and provide details of the program operation including funds distributed and departments taking advantage of the subsidy.
CHAPTER 33. INSURANCE.
ARTICLE 3. LICENSING, FEES AND TAXATION OF INSURERS.
§33-3-33a. Excess moneys of Fire Protection Fund deposited into Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Premium Subsidy Fund; other funding; special report from State Fire Marshal by December 15, 2015; termination of program June 30, 2016.
_____(a) There is hereby established a special fund in the State Treasury known as the "Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Premium Subsidy Fund." The fund shall be administered by the State Auditor and shall consist of moneys deposited in the fund pursuant to this section, any other funds appropriated by the Legislature for volunteer fire departments for the purposes of section fourteen-a, article four, chapter twelve of this code, and the interest or other earnings on the moneys in the fund. The State Auditor shall administer the distribution of moneys of the fund to volunteer fire departments to help defray workers' compensation insurance premium increases pursuant to section fourteen-a, article four, chapter twelve of this code. Balances in the fund at the end of any fiscal year shall not expire, but shall be expended for those purposes in ensuing fiscal years pursuant to appropriation of the Legislature.
_____(b) Beginning July 1, 2013, and in each fiscal year thereafter until June 30, 2016, the excess of the aggregate of amounts collected by the commissioner that are otherwise required under any provision of this code to be deposited into the Fire Protection Fund over the aggregate of those amounts deposited into the Fire Protection Fund during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, shall be deposited into the Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Premium Subsidy Fund and expended solely for the purposes established in section fourteen-a, article four, chapter twelve of this code.
_____
(c) On or before August 1, 2013, the commissioner shall transfer $7.5 million from the Premium Tax Savings Fund created under section thirteen, article twelve, chapter twenty-nine of this code to the Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Premium Subsidy Fund and expended solely for the purposes established in section fourteen-a, article four, chapter twelve of this code until June 30, 2016.
_____(d) The State Fire Marshal, in consultation with the Insurance Commissioner, the State Auditor, the Secretary of Revenue and the Legislative Auditor, shall conduct a review of the needs of each volunteer or part volunteer fire company or volunteer fire department serving in the various counties of the state. On or before December 31, 2015, the State Fire Marshal shall submit to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance a comprehensive report of the review and the State Fire Marshal's recommendations, substantiated by the findings of the review, of steps that may be taken to meet the needs of and sustain the volunteer and part volunteer fire companies and volunteer fire departments of this state, including, but not limited to, the following:
_____(1) An assessment of all current funding received by the volunteer fire companies and departments, and a further assessment of the funding necessary to provide the community protections required for the areas served by the volunteer fire companies and departments, the extent to which those needs are being met, the extent to which they are not being met, and recommendations of sources of funds to meet additional needs and the amounts needed, if any;
_____(2) An assessment of the cost of workers' compensation coverage for the volunteer fire companies and departments and recommendations for any actions that may be undertaken by the volunteer fire companies and departments and others to reduce those costs;
_____(3) An assessment of the causes of any decline in recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters and recommendations for improvements in this area, including any recommendations for incentives that have a demonstrated record of significant increases in recruitment and retention as well as recommendations of sources of funds to provide those incentives, if funds are necessary;
_____(4) An assessment of the level of financial accountability that should be required of volunteer fire companies and departments in order to provide the Legislature the information necessary to target future funding for their activities based upon the safety and fire protection needs of the various areas of the state;
_____(5) An assessment of the comparative levels of funding for volunteer fire companies and departments provided by counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions and the means by which that funding is provided, including identification of those which contribute little or no funding to the volunteer fire companies and departments within their jurisdictions, together with recommendations for increasing those levels of contributions;
_____(6) An assessment of the comparative levels of funding for volunteer fire companies and departments provided by their own efforts, and the means by which that funding is provided, including identification of those which provide little or no funding through their own efforts, together with recommendations for increasing these sources of funding;
_____(7) An assessment of the comparative economic and other benefits provided by the various volunteer fire companies and departments to their particular counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions, as well as to citizens of the local communities they serve;
_____(8) An assessment of the sustainability of the current model of providing fire and other protections to the citizens of rural communities through volunteer fire companies and departments and an assessment of alternative models for providing those protections; and
_____(9) Other assessments and recommendations which the State Fire Marshal deems appropriate in the circumstances.
_____(d) Upon the conclusion of the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, the provisions of this section and section fourteen-a, article four, chapter twelve of this code shall expire and be of no further force and effect and the Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Premium Subsidy Fund shall be closed. Upon closure of the fund, from any balances therein remaining, the State Auditor shall first, to the extent available, transfer to the Fire Protection Fund an amount equal to the aggregate of funds deposited into the Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Premium Subsidy Fund during the fiscal years ending June 30, 2014, 2015 and 2016 pursuant to subsection (b) of this section that would otherwise have been required to be deposited into the Fire Protection Fund, and any balances thereafter remaining in the Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Premium Subsidy Fund shall expire to the General Revenue Fund of the state.

     NOTE: The purpose of the bill is to improve the Volunteer Fire Department Workers' Compensation Subsidy Program by clarifying that the subsidies provided to volunteer fire departments to offset their workers' compensation premium increases apply not only to the increases attributable to their fire fighting services, but apply as well to increases attributable to the rapid response emergency medical service, ambulance service and diving service components of the services provided by the volunteer fire departments; by extending the program and providing a one-time and continuing sources of revenue for the program; and by directing a comprehensive study of steps that may be taken to meet the needs of and sustain the volunteer and part volunteer fire companies and volunteer fire departments of this state.


     Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.
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