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S.F. No. 1423, 1st Engrossment - 86th Legislative Session (2009-2010)   Posted on Mar 19, 2009

1.1A bill for an act
1.2relating to workers' compensation; clarifying the Department of Labor and
1.3Industry's duty to assist employees and employers to deal with the workers'
1.4compensation system;amending Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 176.261.
1.5BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

1.6    Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 176.261, is amended to read:
1.7176.261 EMPLOYEE OF COMMISSIONER OF DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
1.8AND INDUSTRY MAY ACT FOR AND ADVISE A PARTY TO A PROCEEDING
1.9TO ASSIST EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES.
1.10    Subdivision 1. Commissioner's duties. When requested by an employer or
1.11an employee or an employee's dependent, or on the commissioner's initiative, the
1.12commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry may designate one or more of
1.13the division employees to advise that party of shall provide technical and other advice
1.14concerning rights and obligations under this chapter, and as far as possible to. The
1.15commissioner shall assist in adjusting differences between the parties settling disputes
1.16over those rights and obligations. The person so designated commissioner may appear in
1.17person in any proceedings under this chapter as the representative or adviser of the a party.
1.18In such case, the party need not be represented by an attorney at law.
1.19    Subd. 2. Office of Workers' Compensation Assistance. The commissioner shall
1.20establish a workers' compensation assistance office within the department that shall
1.21perform the commissioner's duties under this section. The commissioner shall assign
1.22sufficient personnel to the office to promptly perform those duties.
1.23    Subd. 3. Referral prohibited. Prior to advising The commissioner may not require
1.24an employee or employer to seek assistance outside of the department, the department
2.1must refer employers and employees seeking advice or requesting assistance in resolving
2.2a dispute to an attorney or other technical, paraprofessional, or professional Workers'
2.3Compensation Division employee, whichever is appropriate.
2.4    Subd. 4. Settlement activities. The department commissioner must make efforts
2.5to settle problems of employees and employers by contacting third parties, including
2.6attorneys, insurers, and health care providers, on behalf of employers and employees
2.7and using the department's persuasion to settle issues quickly and cooperatively. The
2.8obligation to make efforts to settle problems exists whether or not a formal claim has
2.9been filed with the department.