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  S.B. No. 2551
 
 
 
 
AN ACT
  relating to liability, payment, and benefits for certain workers'
  compensation claims.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 607.055, Government Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 607.055.  CANCER. (a)  A firefighter or emergency
  medical technician who suffers from cancer resulting in death or
  total or partial disability is presumed to have developed the
  cancer during the course and scope of employment as a firefighter or
  emergency medical technician if:
               (1)  the firefighter or emergency medical technician:
                     (A)  regularly responded on the scene to calls
  involving fires or fire fighting; or
                     (B)  regularly responded to an event involving the
  documented release of radiation or a known or suspected carcinogen
  while the person was employed as a firefighter or emergency medical
  technician; and
               (2)  the cancer is [known to be associated with fire
  fighting or exposure to heat, smoke, radiation, or a known or
  suspected carcinogen, as] described by Subsection (b).
         (b)  This section applies only to:
               (1)  cancer that originates at the stomach, colon,
  rectum, skin, prostate, testis, or brain;
               (2)  non-Hodgkin's lymphoma;
               (3)  multiple myeloma;
               (4)  malignant melanoma; and
               (5)  renal cell carcinoma [a type of cancer that may be
  caused by exposure to heat, smoke, radiation, or a known or
  suspected carcinogen as determined by the International Agency for
  Research on Cancer].
         SECTION 2.  Section 607.058, Government Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 607.058.  PRESUMPTION REBUTTABLE. (a)  A presumption
  under Section 607.053, 607.054, 607.055, or 607.056 may be rebutted
  through a showing by a preponderance of the evidence that a risk
  factor, accident, hazard, or other cause not associated with the
  individual's service as a firefighter or emergency medical
  technician was a substantial factor in bringing about [caused] the
  individual's disease or illness, without which the disease or
  illness would not have occurred.
         (b)  A rebuttal offered under this section must include a
  statement by the person offering the rebuttal that describes, in
  detail, the evidence that the person reviewed before making the
  determination that a cause not associated with the individual's
  service as a firefighter or emergency medical technician was a
  substantial factor in bringing about [caused] the individual's
  disease or illness, without which the disease or illness would not
  have occurred.
         (c)  In addressing an argument based on a rebuttal offered
  under this section, an administrative law judge shall make findings
  of fact and conclusions of law that consider whether a qualified
  expert, relying on evidence-based medicine, stated the opinion
  that, based on reasonable medical probability, an identified risk
  factor, accident, hazard, or other cause not associated with the
  individual's service as a firefighter or emergency medical
  technician was a substantial factor in bringing about the
  individual's disease or illness, without which the disease or
  illness would not have occurred.
         SECTION 3.  Section 409.021, Labor Code, is amended by
  adding Subsection (a-3) to read as follows:
         (a-3)  An insurance carrier is not required to comply with
  Subsection (a) if the claim results from an employee's disability
  or death for which a presumption is claimed to be applicable under
  Subchapter B, Chapter 607, Government Code, and, not later than the
  15th day after the date on which the insurance carrier received
  written notice of the injury, the insurance carrier has provided
  the employee and the division with a notice that describes all steps
  taken by the insurance carrier to investigate the injury before the
  notice was given and the evidence the carrier reasonably believes
  is necessary to complete its investigation of the compensability of
  the injury.  The commissioner shall adopt rules as necessary to
  implement this subsection. 
         SECTION 4.  Section 409.022, Labor Code, is amended by
  adding Subsection (d-1) to read as follows:
         (d-1)  An insurance carrier has not committed an
  administrative violation under Section 409.021 if the carrier has
  sent notice to the employee as required by Subsection (d) of this
  section or Section 409.021(a-3).
         SECTION 5.  Section 415.021, Labor Code, is amended by
  adding Subsection (c-2) to read as follows:
         (c-2)  In determining whether to assess an administrative
  penalty involving a claim in which the insurance carrier provided
  notice under Section 409.021(a-3), the commissioner shall consider
  whether:
               (1)  the employee cooperated with the insurance
  carrier's investigation of the claim;
               (2)  the employee timely authorized access to the
  applicable medical records before the insurance carrier's deadline
  to:
                     (A)  begin payment of benefits; or 
                     (B)  notify the division and the employee of the
  insurance carrier's refusal to pay benefits; and
               (3)  the insurance carrier conducted an investigation
  of the claim, applied the statutory presumptions under Subchapter
  B, Chapter 607, Government Code, and expedited medical benefits
  under Section 504.055.
         SECTION 6.  Section 504.053(e), Labor Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (e)  Nothing in this chapter waives sovereign immunity or
  creates a new cause of action, except that a political subdivision
  that self-insures either individually or collectively is liable
  for:
               (1)  sanctions, administrative penalties, and other
  remedies authorized under Chapter 415;
               (2)  attorney's fees as provided by Section 408.221(c);
  and
               (3)  attorney's fees as provided by Section 417.003.
         SECTION 7.  Subchapter D, Chapter 504, Labor Code, is
  amended by adding Section 504.074 to read as follows:
         Sec. 504.074.  SELF-INSURANCE ACCOUNT FOR DEATH BENEFITS AND
  LIFETIME INCOME BENEFITS.  (a)  A pool or a political subdivision
  that self-insures may establish an account for the payment of death
  benefits and lifetime income benefits under Chapter 408.
         (b)  An account established under this section may
  accumulate assets in an amount that the pool or political
  subdivision, in its sole discretion, determines is necessary in
  order to pay death benefits and lifetime income benefits. The
  establishment of an account under this section or the amount of
  assets accumulated in the account does not affect the liability of a
  pool or political subdivision for the payment of death benefits and
  lifetime income benefits.
         (c)  Chapter 2256, Government Code, does not apply to the
  investment of assets in an account established under this section.
  A pool or political subdivision investing or reinvesting the assets
  of an account shall discharge its duties solely in the interest of
  current and future beneficiaries:
               (1)  for the exclusive purposes of:
                     (A)  providing death benefits and lifetime income
  benefits to current and future beneficiaries; and
                     (B)  defraying reasonable expenses of
  administering the account;
               (2)  with the care, skill, prudence, and diligence
  under the prevailing circumstances that a prudent person acting in
  a like capacity and familiar with matters of the type would use in
  the conduct of an enterprise with a like character and like aims;
               (3)  by diversifying the investments of the account to
  minimize the risk of large losses, unless under the circumstances
  it is clearly prudent not to do so; and
               (4)  in accordance with the documents and instruments
  governing the account to the extent that the documents and
  instruments are consistent with this section.
         (d)  In choosing and contracting for professional investment
  management services for an account established under this section
  and in continuing the use of an investment manager, the pool or
  political subdivision must act prudently and in the interest of the
  current and future beneficiaries of the account.
         SECTION 8.  Sections 607.055 and 607.058, Government Code,
  as amended by this Act, apply only to a claim for workers'
  compensation benefits filed on or after the effective date of this
  Act. A claim filed before that date is governed by the law as it
  existed on the date the claim was filed, and the former law is
  continued in effect for that purpose.
         SECTION 9.  The commissioner of workers' compensation shall
  adopt rules as required by or necessary to implement this Act not
  later than January 1, 2020.
         SECTION 10.  (a)  Section 504.053(e)(1), Labor Code, as
  added by this Act, applies only to an administrative violation that
  occurs on or after the effective date of this Act. An
  administrative violation that occurs before the effective date of
  this Act is governed by the law applicable to the violation
  immediately before the effective date of this Act, and that law is
  continued in effect for that purpose.
         (b)  Section 504.053(e)(2), Labor Code, as added by this Act,
  applies only to a claim for workers' compensation benefits filed on
  or after the effective date of this Act. A claim filed before the
  effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect on the
  date the claim was filed, and the former law is continued in effect
  for that purpose.
         SECTION 11.  This Act takes effect immediately if it
  receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each
  house, as provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution.
  If this Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate
  effect, this Act takes effect September 1, 2019.
 
 
 
 
 
 
  ______________________________ ______________________________
     President of the Senate Speaker of the House     
 
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 2551 passed the Senate on
  May 7, 2019, by the following vote:  Yeas 30, Nays 1;
  May 23, 2019, Senate refused to concur in House amendments and
  requested appointment of Conference Committee; May 23, 2019, House
  granted request of the Senate; May 26, 2019, Senate adopted
  Conference Committee Report by the following vote:  Yeas 30,
  Nays 1.
 
 
  ______________________________
  Secretary of the Senate    
 
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 2551 passed the House, with
  amendments, on May 21, 2019, by the following vote:  Yeas 142,
  Nays 2, three present not voting; May 23, 2019, House granted
  request of the Senate for appointment of Conference Committee;
  May 26, 2019, House adopted Conference Committee Report by the
  following vote:  Yeas 140, Nays 0, two present not voting.
 
 
  ______________________________
  Chief Clerk of the House   
 
 
 
  Approved:
 
  ______________________________ 
             Date
 
 
  ______________________________ 
            Governor