News Digest 11-19-2021


California: Hemp farm owner faces felony labor charges

San Mateo County, California prosecutors have charged the owner of a now-shuttered Half Moon Bay hemp farm with 39 counts of insurance fraud and labor violations after they alleged he failed to pay 33 employees between December 2020 and January 2021. The 37-year-old defendant also failed to pay premiums and lost workers’ compensation insurance on late last December but continued to have employees work until the California Department of Industrial Relations issued a stop order, according to the district attorney’s office. Half Moon Bay Review


Florida regulators approve 4.9 percent reduction in workers’ comp rates

At the end of last week, Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier issued a final order granting approval to the National Council on Compensation Insurance for a statewide overall workers’ compensation insurance rate decrease of 4.9 percent. The rate decrease applies to both new and renewal workers’ compensation insurance policies effective in Florida as of January 1, 2022. Florida Daily


“Idiopathic” defense to workers’ comp claims is still viable in Georgia, court rules

When it comes to a fall at work, the question of compensability usually turns on whether the fall and resulting injury “arose out of” the employment. The “idiopathic defense” to workers’ compensation claims is still a viable one, according to a recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals, according to Amanda Harper of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP. JD Supra


Idaho Senate panel kills three COVID-19 vaccine bills

The Idaho Legislature appeared ready on Wednesday to wrap up the extended 2021 session after a Senate committee killed three bills having to do with COVID-19 vaccine legislation. One bill involved making it easier for Idaho residents to get workers’ compensation if they become ill after taking an employee-mandated vaccine. Another would have prohibited questioning the sincerity of people claiming religious exemptions from vaccinations. The third bill would have prevented employers from asking employees whether they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Lawmakers said versions of the legislation could return when the Legislature meets for its regular session in January. Bonners Ferry Herald


Bill to remove automatic workers’ compensation cover for COVID stalls down under

Australia’s New South Wales government plans to repeal automatic workers’ compensation cover for essential employees have stalled until next year. Under special exemptions introduced during the pandemic, employees in industries including health, transport, hospitality, retail, education, construction, disability and aged care were presumed to have been infected with COVID-19 on the job when making a workers’ compensation claim. The government introduced a bill this week to remove the exemption so these employees would need to prove they were infected with COVID-19 on the job. Sydney Morning Herald