2020 Legislative Sessions: Workers Compensation Preview

NCCI continually monitors issues that could potentially impact the workers compensation system. Here we summarize 2019 legislative trends and hot topics, and preview activity in 2020. View the 2020 Legislative Sessions: Workers Compensation Preview webinar for more information on these topics.

Legislative Overview

In 2019, NCCI tracked almost 700 state and federal workers compensation-related bills and monitored almost 280 workers compensation-related regulations. More than 100 bills were enacted, and 143 regulations were adopted.

NCCI is already monitoring more than 500 bills in 2020 and we expect that number to grow as the state legislative sessions progress. So far, the 2020 legislative trends and hot topics look very similar to 2019.

First Responders

First responder legislation was the top trending issue in 2019. NCCI tracked 126 bills related to first responders. The bills addressed compensability for certain cancers and other diseases, as well as workers compensation coverage for mental injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Nine states passed legislation addressing workers compensation coverage for first responders with mental-only injuries and one state passed a bill to study the issue.

In 2020, NCCI is already monitoring 92 first responder bills. To date, 36 of those bills address mental injuries.


Reimbursement for medical marijuana in workers compensation was a hot issue in 2019. Several states considered legislation to authorize the reimbursement of medical marijuana in workers compensation. Rhode Island passed legislation that does not prohibit reimbursement but does not require it either.

In 2020, NCCI is already tracking marijuana-related legislation in 22 states. Kentucky has proposed legislation addressing the issue of reimbursement for medical marijuana in workers compensation.

Single Payer

NCCI monitored more than 40 bills that either proposed implementing a single-payer health insurance system or studying the issue. Several states considered legislation that specifically referenced workers compensation or medical benefits for injured workers.

Three states—Colorado, Oregon, and Vermont—passed legislation to study the issue. In 2020, NCCI is tracking single-payer bills in seven states so far.

Independent Contractors/Gig Economy

Last year, NCCI monitored about 45 bills that address independent contractors and the classification of employees. California passed AB 5, which adopted a three-part test for determining whether workers are employees or independent contractors, and Arkansas enacted legislation that codified a 20-factor test from an IRS ruling to determine whether workers are employees or independent contractors.

NCCI is currently tracking independent contractor legislation in 10 states, including California, Illinois, Missouri, New York, and Virginia.

Additional Resources

Check out NCCI’s new Legislative Activity online resource for an interactive map that links directly to legislative activity on state and federal websites. The page is a source for all workers compensation- related legislation from bill introduction throughout the legislative process.

You can also learn more by watching educational webinars and videos on fundamental and advanced workers comp topics in NCCI’s Learning Center.

​This article is provided solely as a reference tool to be used for informational purposes only. The information in this article shall not be construed or interpreted as providing legal or any other advice. Use of this article for any purpose other than as set forth herein is strictly prohibited.