In national news:

The confirmation hearing for U.S. Department of Labor Secretary nominee Alex Acosta was held yesterday in the Senate HELP Committee. Many of the senators spent time questioning Acosta about the Obama-era overtime rule that is currently held up by a federal judge in Texas, as well as the gig economy, and overloaded pension programs.

Highlights for workers’ comp include:

  • Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) asked if Acosta would “promise not to weaken the silica rule” and other regulations. Acosta answered the question by pointing to President Trump’s executive order directing all cabinet secretaries to review all rules put in place by the Obama administration. Warren persisted, doubling down the question and asking whether Acosta, whose “name will be on the bottom line,” will serve 150 million American workers, “some of whom are being poisoned by silica.”
  • Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) addressed a lack of OSHA inspectors in some areas and Trump’s significant proposed cut to the DOL. Acosta said he can’t commit to “current levels” of inspectors, but that he would be “very concerned” about areas that do not have enough inspectors because “going from seven inspectors to six makes a big impact.”
  • Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) questioned Acosta about the definition of “joint employer” under the previous administration, criticizing its effect on franchisees. Acosta responded to a line of questions from Alexander and said that it is an “untraditional approach” to define indirect control as a requisite part of joint employer status.

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