In August 2019, Governor Gretchen Whitmer authorized Michigan Executive Order No 2019-13 which transferred a number of state administrative agencies to the newly established Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity aptly nicknamed named LEO like Leo the Lion.
In this transition, the former Worker’s Compensation Agency has been reconstituted into the brand-new Workers Disability Compensation Agency (WDCA). The authorities, powers, duties, functions, and responsibilities of the executive director of the former Michigan Administrative Hearing System were transferred to the Director of The Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency. It will give the agency the ability to foresee and address the needs of injured workers and their employers liberated from statewide policy directives that will endure even when there is a change in administrations.
In the same executive order, the magistrates who decide cases at the trial level are also no longer under the authority of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. They will enjoy more independence, and although they are a part of the WDCA, the magistrates will exercise the following powers collectively and autonomously from the WDCA. The board of magistrates will:
a. exercise its prescribed statutory powers, duties, and functions of rule-making;
b. manage licensing and registration matters including the prescription of rules, rates, regulations and standards;
They will conduct trial and adjudication independently of the Director of the WDCA.
There is also revamping of the WDCA appellate body which will be called The Workers’ Disability Compensation Appeals Commission. Although it will be located within the WDCA, it will operate independently of the WDCA. The director of the WDCA and Appeals Commission will work together to:
a. decide the procedure for assigning and scheduling cases;
b. measure and report on the productivity of the members of the Appeals Commission; and
c. timelines for deciding cases.
The work of each appellate commissioner will be evaluated every year for competency and the findings will be embodied in a report sent to the director. If the report should reflect badly on an appellate commissioner, upon advice of the director of the WDCA, the governor would be empowered to suspend or remove that commissioner.


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July 10, 2020

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