Archive for April 1st, 2009

by jhwygirl

Wednesday? Already? Yeah!

Hearings are slowing down in terms of public hearings – it’s executive action season. Those aren’t scheduled much more than a day in advance. Nonetheless, there are still a couple of hearings out there on bills we’ve been following – some for so long, it’s bordering ridiculous. Take SB131 as an example – not only do I recall the extensive statewide meetings on fire policy, I remember the birth of that committee out of the 2007 legislative season. Just think of always fabulous Sen. Carol Williams chasing this bill through that all! This bill would map the wildland urban interface as part of meeting requirements regarding adoption of regulations to address the same. This last hearing in House Appropriations will, hopefully, not result in any amendments. Shouldn’t..and the thing is budget neutral, and funded out of Federal grants. This (hopefully) last committee hearing is consider sending this one some support – Jon Moe the secretary –

HB636 is beginning its path through the Senate. 636 is a bill that would provide a tax incentive to sellers of trailer parks to homeowners associations or housing agencies. This is a great way to preserve some affordability in housing options. In Senate Taxation on Thursday – Debra Polhemus the secretary –

This is a first post on HB131 from Rep. Ron Stoker, of Ravalli County. HB131 would require state contracted mental health emergency detention beds, while its companion funding bill HB130 would provide grants to counties to fund crisis intervention for the mentally ill. This bill passed the House with a nice 81 to 19 vote, illustrating its bipartisan support. Hearing is Friday. In Senate Judiciary – Pam Schindler

Thursday is Legislative Day No. 73…that means only 17 days left of 2009’s First Session.

Plenty has “gone up the the Governor’s desk”..and at some point, we’re all going to have to survey that list and see what’s there – what shouldn’t be.

a can of worms…


by problembear

when i posted the link last weekend to joe nickell’s article in the missoulian about montana’s proud tradition of live music being threatened by an obscure law requiring part-time musicians to file for a workers comp exemption certificate, i thought it might be instructive to post a copy of the actual document which the Montana dept of labor wants the musicians to fill out.

it is called a certificate of exemption and reading it gives you a pretty good idea of what it attempts to do. i say attempts to do because nothing resembling what it represents and what it actually does is ever told about this except in a court of law….but more about that later….read this first and then we’ll talk…..



State of Montana Department of Labor and Industry Independent Contractor Exemption Certificate Application WAIVER of Workers’ Compensation Benefits Instructions: Sign this waiver only if you understand, agree to, and initial all the following statements: I, ___________________________, am executing this waiver in order to apply for an independent contractor exemption certificate with the Montana Department of Labor and Industry (Department). _____ I agree to waive all the rights and benefits to which I am entitled under Montana’s Workers’ Compensation Act (Act), Title 39, Chapter 71, MCA, for any work performed under an independent contractor exemption certificate. I understand and agree that if I am injured while working for a hiring agent, I am precluded from obtaining workers’ compensation benefits under the Act for any and all damages arising out of any injury related to my work performance under an independent contractor exemption certificate. I understand and agree that if I am fatally injured related to my work performance under an independent contractor exemption certificate, this waiver is effective against any of my beneficiaries as designated under the Act. I understand this waiver is not necessary for workers’ compensation purposes if I elect to obtain workers’ compensation insurance for myself as provided by the Act. _____ I understand and agree that if my independent contractor exemption certificate is granted, I will be conclusively presumed in court to have waived all benefits under the Act for work performed under the certificate. _____ I have an independently established trade(s), occupation(s), profession(s), or business(es) and I have provided accurate and truthful documentation to the Department to verify the existence of this occupation(s) in my affidavit application. _____ When acting as an independent contractor, I agree to maintain my status as an independent contractor by being free from control or direction over the performance of my services and the details of my work, both under contract and in fact. I agree hiring agents will only be permitted to offer direction and exercise control in matters essential to specifying the end result. I understand that while performing work under my independent contractor exemption certificate that I am waiving workers’ compensation benefits unless I have a written or oral agreement to work as an employee for that hiring agent. _____ I understand and agree that I am responsible for all taxes related to my work as an independent contractor. _____ I understand the Department has the authority to investigate my working relationships as an independent contractor and may suspend or revoke my independent contractor exemption certificate if appropriate. _____ I am of sound mind, I am 18 years of age or older, I have read and understand this waiver, and I I am voluntarily and knowingly executing this waiver free from duress, coercion, or misrepresentation from any person. By signing this waiver, I understand and agree that I WAIVE ALL STATUTORY RIGHTS AND BENEFITS THAT I AM ENTITLED TO UNDER MONTANA’S WORKERS’COMPENSATION ACT. By:_________________________________________________________________ Dated: _______________________ Applicant Signature SUBSCRIBED before me this ____ day of ___________, 20___. _____________________________________ Signature of Notary Public _____________________________________ Printed Name of Notary Public (Notarial seal) Residing at _____________,______________ My commission expires __________________ IC Waiver May 2005


 looks like if you sign this, you will not have any coverage if you are injured on the job, doesn’t it?  in reality, you are covered anyway according to the montana supreme court because the supreme court of montana has ruled that this document does not, in fact, absolve the state of any requirements to protect workers. this document  is in fact a paper tiger which any good attorney can easily cut into confetti.

Re Matthews vs Liberty Mutual Insurance 2004 Summary: On appeal of this case, the Montana Supreme Court held that an independent contractor exemption does not conclusively bar a worker from claiming he was an employee and from seeking workers’ compensation benefits.

so why does montana go through this charade? simple. many prominent montana businesses simply do not want to pay to cover their employees under workers compensation so the Montana legislature invented this to make us taxpayers think that people were simply exempting themselves from coverage when all the while the state has been legally on the hook to cover any worker, covered or not, who is injured on the job.

this is an excellent example of how business slides liability onto the shoulders of government while they avoid paying for the coverage. so whenever a so called exempt subcontractor in this state injures him or herself any good lawyer can simply force the state of Montana to cover them thanks to this swiss cheese. Don’t get me wrong, i think anyone who is injured on the job deserves protection. what i object to is constructing phony laws that don’t hold water in court to make people jump through hoops designed to bluff people into thinking that they are avoiding a major legitimate cost of business. why not face reality head on and just cover everyone who works? if all these subcontractors and contractors just contributed what they should then the rates would come down with full compliance and we would not have all this confusion.

this can of worms is festering because our legislators have caved to business interests in this state who want to avoid a legitimate and responsible cost of business by dumping it on those of us who do pay for workers comp. workers in this state should be covered and the people who hire them should pay for the coverage. if you are self-employed you should be required to pay for the coverage. that is the way it worked before business interests started gaming the system .

it is time to cover everyone who works and it is time we all chipped in to make the system pay for itself. workers comp for musicians could easily be provided through a guild which collects a small percentage of their earnings toward this coverage. no more exemptions. no more phony documents that aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. it is time for the dept of labor to bite the bullet and face this mess for what it is- just a can of worms.

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