WSR 03-12-076

PROPOSED RULES

DEPARTMENT OF

FISH AND WILDLIFE

[ Filed June 3, 2003, 2:10 p.m. ]

Original Notice.

Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 03-06-031.

Title of Rule: Procedural rules.

Purpose: Describe relief from active duty procedure.

Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 77.12.047.

Statute Being Implemented: RCW 77.12.264.

Summary: Provide mechanism for establishing relief from active duty status and providing benefits.

Reasons Supporting Proposal: Provide mechanism for disabled officers to get relief from active duty benefits.

Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting: Evan Jacoby, 1111 Washington Street, Olympia, 902-2930; Implementation: Penny Cusuk, 1111 Washington Street, Olympia, 902-2276; and Enforcement: Bruce Bjork, 1111 Washington Street, Olympia, 902-2373.

Name of Proponent: Department of Fish and Wildlife, governmental.

Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.

Explanation of Rule, its Purpose, and Anticipated Effects: Fish and wildlife officers have a unique disability plan that allows officers to be put on relief from active duty status, with benefits, when the officer is found to be unable to perform the duties of an officer as a result of injury in the performance of official duties. This rule will establish the procedure to establish such status. This rule will provide protection for both the officer and the department by providing procedural safeguards.

Proposal does not change existing rules.

No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. This rule has no effect on small businesses.

RCW 34.05.328 does not apply to this rule adoption. Not hydraulics rules.

Hearing Location: Hampton Inn/Fox Hall, 3985 Bennett Drive, Bellingham, WA 98225, on August 1-2, 2003, begins 8:00 a.m. on August 1, 2003.

Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Susan Yeager by July 18, 2003, TDD (360) 902-2207 or (360) 902-2267.

Submit Written Comments to: Evan Jacoby, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091, fax (360) 902-2155, by July 25, 2003.

Date of Intended Adoption: August 1, 2003.

June 3, 2003

Evan Jacoby

Rules Coordinator

OTS-6405.2


NEW SECTION
WAC 220-20-110   Fish and wildlife enforcement officer relief from active duty procedure.   (1) This section governs the actions required for granting relief from active duty and payment of relief from active duty benefits under RCW 77.12.264. Compliance with the procedural steps of this section is mandatory, and failure to comply with these procedures will result in a denial of benefits if payment has not begun, or a termination of payments if payments have begun.

(2) A request for relief from active duty must be filed in writing with the director, and may be filed by either the officer or the officer's representative. For purposes of this section, the officer is the "claimant."

(3) Upon receipt of the relief from active duty request, the director's office will notify the department's personnel office (the personnel office). The personnel office will review the claimant's personnel file to ascertain employment status. The personnel office will determine if a labor and industries on duty injury claim was filed and the status of that claim. If a claim was filed but was disallowed, the department will notify the claimant that the department will not further process a request for relief from active duty until all appeal efforts on the labor and industries on duty injury claim are completed.

(4) The personnel office will respond to the claimant's request for relief from active duty and provide an information request and medical release form to be completed by the claimant and returned to the personnel office. The claimant is required to provide all information and documentation requested by the department. If any requested information is missing, the department will send a second request to the claimant.

(5) Upon receipt of the medical release form and required documentation, the department's labor and industries claims manager, the department's reasonable accommodation program manager, and the senior human resources consultant assigned to the enforcement program will review the information provided by the claimant. From that review, the personnel manager, or designee, will identify one or more licensed medical specialist(s) as appropriate to the independent medical examination. The medical specialist will provide to the personnel manager a current medical analysis with careful consideration of the essential mental, physical and sensory functions of a fish and wildlife officer. The department will pay for the independent medical examination, and will give due consideration for the location of the claimant's current residence.

(6) Within sixty days after the receipt of the results of the independent medical examination, the department will arrange for a panel to review the request for relief from active duty. This panel may consist of a licensed, qualified medical professional of the department of labor and industries, the department's personnel manager or designee, the assistant director for the enforcement program or designee and, at the claimant's expense, a licensed, qualified medical professional of the claimant's choosing. The department will bear the cost of convening this panel with the exception of any costs associated with the medical professional chosen by the claimant. The panel will provide a written recommendation to the director of the department. The director will make a final decision to either grant or not grant relief from active duty. The director's written decision will be provided to the claimant.

(7) If relief from active duty is granted, the department may require periodic reviews of the claimant's medical condition. Such review may include an independent medical examination. Notice of a scheduled examination will be provided via certified mail to the claimant. It is the claimant's responsibility to provide the department with the claimant's current address at all times that relief from active duty benefits are being paid. If the certified letter is returned, or the claimant fails to attend any scheduled medical examination, or the claimant fails at any point to cooperate with the department, the relief from active duty benefits will be discontinued. If a medical examination shows that the claimant is able to perform the essential functions of a fish and wildlife officer position, the claimant will be returned to active service and the relief from active duty benefits will be discontinued.

(8) If the relief from active duty benefits are discontinued for any reason, the claimant may file a written appeal with the director. An appeal must include a copy of any written communication from the department regarding the discontinuance, and must describe in detail the reason the relief from active duty benefits should again be provided. In making a decision on whether to renew payment of relief from active duty benefits, the director may review any information related to the on duty injury claim and may require an independent medical examination. The director's decision is final.

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