§ 28-53-1. Preamble and legislative findings.
WHEREAS, The system of workers' compensation in the state of Rhode Island was once in a state of acute crisis until legislative intervention and oversight produced what is now a nationally recognized model of a well-managed economical program that provides injured workers with appropriate compensation, health care, and rehabilitative services without unduly burdening employers, insurers, and the citizens of Rhode Island; and
WHEREAS, Legislative and policy changes have corrected the abuses and misuse of the workers' compensation system while assisting injured workers, restoring fiscal stability, and eliminating waste and unnecessary costs; and
WHEREAS, Professionals providing services covered under the provisions of the workers' compensation act have taken into account, in the performance of their service, the important public policy benefit of a sound and properly functioning workers' compensation system in this state, and have tirelessly committed themselves to protect and maintain the integrity of this system; and
WHEREAS, Abuse and misuse of the workers' compensation system by noncomplying employers has been reduced through the state's mandatory requirement that employers subject to the law either self-insure or maintain a policy of workers' compensation insurance to ensure that legitimately injured workers receive all the rights and benefits provided in the workers' compensation act; and
WHEREAS, Substantive efforts have already been undertaken by the general assembly, the workers' compensation court, and the department of labor and training to eliminate the illegal, irresponsible, and unscrupulous behavior of employers who openly and deliberately operate businesses in Rhode Island without workers' compensation insurance for their employees; and
WHEREAS, The actions of noncomplying employers are illegal and deprive not only injured employees of the workers' compensation benefits to which they are entitled but also cause greater social and financial costs to all citizens of Rhode Island including employers and health care providers who incur uncompensated expenses in treating the victims of the uninsured employer; and
WHEREAS, Additional reform is required to provide payments to employees who are injured while in the service of uninsured employers and to eliminate the flagrant abuse of the system by illegally uninsured employers by requiring them to accept their legal responsibility to pay the appropriate benefits to their insured employees; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That it is declared to be the intent of the legislature that an uninsured protection fund be created to ensure that injured workers who are employed by illegally uninsured employers are not deprived of payments. The fund shall have enforcement mechanisms as are necessary to induce illegally uninsured employers to acknowledge their malfeasance, provide legally mandated payments for injured workers; and to assure that all participants in the system recognize their obligation to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the overall integrity of the compensation system. All amounts owed to the uninsured protection fund from illegally uninsured employers are intended to be excise taxes and as such, all ambiguities and uncertainties are to be resolved in favor of a determination that such assessments are excise taxes.
(P.L. 2007, ch. 509, § 1; P.L. 2018, ch. 86, § 5; P.L. 2018, ch. 98, § 5.)