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Since 1972, advocating for the rights and value of South Dakota state employees.
Month: September, 2012

The Black Hills Knowledge Network seeks to engage

Thursday, September 20, 2012
I attended a conference in Pierre today put on by the Black Hills Knowledge Network. It was primarily a presentation and some small-group discussion. There weren't many attendees in number, but those that were there have influence within the state. Business association representatives were there, as was a member of Gov. Daugaard's office, and there were a few non-profit executive directors around. The primary presentation was about creating a statewide online system for distributing information and data; the presentation was called "Empowering & Engaging Communities with Information and Data." What kind of information and data? Well, I see links to such things as local news articles, local blogs, local calendars, census data, other governmental data, and data from the Rural Life and Census Data Center (I used to do quite a bit of editing and publishing work for them, back when I was a state employee). In my mind's eye, I see a Google-type system, but linking only to data and information pertinent to the state's citizens, and that information could be parsed down to the municipality level. If the system ultimately gets up and running, which I hope it will, I think it will be great for the state.

Passing it on

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
The SDSEO executive board met this past weekend. As executive director, I thought the meeting went well. Past SDSEO president Fred Nelson was a guest speaker, and he made an excellent presentation about how executive boards and executive directors can serve their organization and their membership. While Nelson's presentation was "on the mark" and will no doubt positively affect the SDSEO and all it does for quite some time, perhaps the best part of him being there was simply him being there.

While the board members and myself were able to take from him his knowledge, in interacting with him, we were able to give him deeper insight into ourselves and the organization as it stands today, insight which he will then take to others. Note how I say "will then take" and not "can" or "might." In science, we may have "every action is met with an opposite but equal reaction," but in communication, you can leave out the "opposite"; in communication, you typically get what you give, so "every action is met with an equal reaction." Just as I'm talking up Nelson and his presentation, I'm certain he's doing the same for the executive board and me. That's why it's important for the SDSEO and all of its members and supporters to "spread the word, with positivity" about the SDSEO and everything we are and everything we do.

If you haven't seen the News page, know that State Employees Day will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It'll be in the President's and Speaker's lobbies off the Senate and House floors, respectively. I'm thinking we'll do ice cream and brownies or something along those lines. Everybody is welcome to attend. I do hope to have a good turnout of both state employees and of SDSEO members.

The Department of Human Resources put out a new Benefit News Briefing on Sept. 14. Here's a PDF. Here are some highlights:
  • There's a blood drive tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 20) in Pierre.
  • Walgreen's is up and running as a pharmacy provider for the state employee health plan.
  • There's a fitness challenge for what should be a nice hybrid bike, some helmets, and a couple bike racks. (Note from Eric: Please try to take advantage of the opportunities you have as a state employee to improve your physical fitness. It helps the state to have fit, healthy employees, and it helps you to be fit and healthy as well. Everybody wins.)
  • There's a section on what kind of medical provider you need, based upon your symptoms.
  • There are a couple road-race plugs. More fitness!

CategoriesBenefits News Briefing, Bureau of Human Resources, Executive Board, Health, Legislative, Meetings, State Employees Day

The new website is here

Friday, September 14, 2012
Talking about the new website. Asking for feedback.

Workers' Compensation Advisory Council okays combined trial lawyer proposal

Thursday, September 6, 2012
I've been at meetings of the South Dakota Retirement System's board of trustees and the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council over the last couple days. Actions taken at both meetings will ultimately end up as proposed legislation. I'll do an SDRS recap later, as it's fairly dense, complicated material. However, the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council recap is fairly short.

Workers' Compensation Advisory Council (agenda)
  • Last legislative session, HB 1054 was introduced. HB 1054 failed to pass committee during the last session. It was a State Bar Association bill. It had a few parts. The Bar said it was a "package deal," in that if all the parts weren't included in the legislation, the Bar didn't want the bill to continue (usually, when an outfit or person is the key behind a bill, the "understanding" is that the bill must not be modified, at least without that entity's support). One part was an increase in the notice an employee must give to an employer when injured on the job, from 3 days to 7 days. During the legislative session, in committee, a boatload of business people and business lobbyists testified against that portion of HB 1054. Lots of those same folks testified the same before the Council today. The Council later today decided to pass that part, 4-2. Another part would allow "out-of-state practitioner[s]" to be used in Workers' Compensation cases. The rationale the Bar used today was that there is a shortage of doctors in the state, doctors that can provide the kind of testimony that can be useful for insurers in claims filed against them by employees who claim their injury occurred due to work. One proponent indicated doctors were giving so much testimony that they were contradicting themselves in different court cases, leading to impeaching themselves as witnesses. (Has the impeaching of doctors as witnesses led to a shortage of South Dakota doctors willing to testify for workers' compensation insurers in certain cases? Or has it simply made the case that honesty is always the best policy, regardless of who's paying the bill?) I testified against the issue today, stating, among other things, that any "lack" of South Dakota doctors was not really backed with any facts, and that South Dakota Workers' Compensation should be kept in South Dakota. Another point I made is that this proposed change wasn't limited to geographic areas or medical specialties where a lack of doctors would make out-of-state doctors useful. Another person, from a South Dakota medical organization, also opposed the issue. It passed 4-2. So, expect to see a bill with those two things in it at the next legislative session. One difference this time will be that the bill actually has the Council's support this time. HB 1054 was introduced without the approval of the Council at the last session, a fact that probably guaranteed it wouldn't go anywhere. The bill will have the Council's support next go-round.

CategoriesMember, South Dakota Retirement System, Worker's Compensation
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