GB's Weekly Governmental Briefing
Through our Governmental Affairs practice, GB is helping to shape the laws and regulations that will define the times ahead. Acting on behalf of the best interests of our clients and our industry.
Each week, we bring it all into focus.
Rolling Back Net NeutralityNov. 29, 2017
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced plans to repeal net neutrality, the 2015 Obama-era regulations on internet service providers (ISPs), and allow ISPs to block media content. Pai's plan would require ISPs to disclose any blocking or prioritization of content to consumers. The FCC will vote on the repeal at the FCC's Open Meeting on Dec. 14.
PSST...WHAT EXACTLY IS NET NEUTRALITY?
Net neutrality is the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally. Essentially, it means your broadband provider, cable company, or telephone service can't block or slow down the services or applications you use over the web. It also means that you shouldn't have to pay for "fast lanes" to have your content delivered faster.
DOESN'T THIS JUST AFFECT INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS?
Not exactly. Although the regulations directly affect telecom and cable companies, it could negatively impact small- and medium-sized internet businesses. ISPs will be allowed to bundle websites like they bundle television channels. Businesses will need to pay ISPs for faster access or to unblock content or face the alternative - slower speeds or possible blocking of content.
Supporters say that the freedom to charge different prices for different products and services is vital to healthy markets and is the fuel of innovations and efficiency. Critics say the revisions hurt consumers and businesses alike. Of the five commissioners on the FCC, three have already pledged support to Chairman Pai's proposal to end net neutrality.
To allow affected employers additional time to become familiar with a new electronic reporting system launched on August 1, 2017, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has extended the date by which employers must electronically report injury and illness data through the Injury Tracking Application (ITA) to December 15, 2017. This further extension follows a decision by OSHA to extend the final rule's original reporting date from July 1 to Dec. 1.
REMIND ME - WHO'S AFFECTED?
The rule requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness information they are already required to keep under existing OSHA regulations. Specifically, businesses with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries, which includes the construction industry, as well as all employers with 250 or more employees must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A - Summary of Work Related Injuries and Illnesses by the new deadline.
Making Our Way Around the Country
The New York Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) released revised proposed impairment guidelines. The WCB made substantial changes to the original proposed guidelines released in September after receiving push back from stakeholders. The New York Assembly originally intended the revisions to reflect advances in modern medicine and improved outcomes. The proposed regulation adds a new section stating that all evaluation of permanent impairment must use the Workers' Compensation Guidelines for Determining Impairment. The WCB is accepting public comments until Dec. 22.
The Florida Division of Workers' Compensation announced the maximum weekly compensation rate will increase 3.5% on Jan. 1, 2018 to $917 per week. Per statute, the weekly compensation rate must be equal to 100 percent of the statewide average weekly wage, adjusted to the nearest dollar, as determined by the state's Department of Economic Opportunity.
We hope that you had a wonderful holiday. Although Giving Tuesday is technically over, we want to remind you that Kids Chance of America is a wonderful organization providing scholarships to children affected by a workplace injury. (And as you know, I also have a soft spot for Give Kids the World.)