LEG REG REVIEW is a periodic newsletter produced by PHILLIPS ASSOCIATES, a professional lobbying and consultant firm located near the State Capitol. It contains news on the legislative and regulatory scene in Pennsylvania that may be of interest to the Insurance and Business Communities. It is a free member benefit for those who are members of the Pennsylvania Association of Health Underwriters (PAHU) or Manufacturers Association of South Central PA (MASCPA). Subscription information may be obtained by contacting PHILLIPS ASSOCIATES at 717/728-1217 FAX 717/728-1164 or e-mail to email@example.com. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org supplying both your name and e-mail address if you wish to be removed from this list.
HOUSE TO COMPLETE LEGISLATIVE WORK
After an about face decision by House leadership, the PA House is convening to complete action on several bills before finally adjourning. Since the Senate is not coming back, the House will have only a stripped down list of possibilities. The one commanding the most attention is a House pension reform bill (HB 2497) that the Senate amended and sent back to the House for concurrence. This may run onto a rocky road since some Democrats including the Governor believe that a Senate amendment to HB 2497 creating an independent fiscal office is unconstitutional. Republicans on the other hand might be tempted to force a hold until the New Year, believing that they could craft a stronger reform bill as the majority party than they were able to with a Democratic majority now. Another possible action is concurrence with a House bill that passed the Senate (HB 1196) delaying implementation of the new sprinkler mandate bill for a year. Builders had unsuccessfully sought a court stay but were rebuffed.
Insurance bills to watch:
- House Bill 1231 extends Workers’ Compensation coverage to classify cancer as a covered disease if contracted by firefighters. There are provisions that exclude a firefighter if he/she is found to have been a smoker for two years and the cancer is tied to smoking as a cause. It passed the House, passed the Senate and now is before the House Rules Committee
- House Bill 664 is in the same position, needing only House concurrence in Senate amendments in order to go to the Governor for his signature. This bill addresses Workers’ Compensation for sole proprietors and extends that coverage to partners and LLC officers. Amended out of the bill was language specifically addressing loggers as covered by the sole proprietor Workers’ Compensation language. One provision to note is defining ‘covered employee’ as individuals who have completed Community Emergency Response Team training and are dispatched to assist the first responders.
HOUSE GOP SELECTS LEADERSHIP; DEMS THIS WEEK
House Republicans selected leadership for the 2011-12 legislative session. They are:
- Speaker nominee (to be voted on by the House formally next year) Sam Smith (Jefferson)
- Majority Leader Mike Turzai (Allegheny)
- Whip Stan Saylor (York)
- Policy Committee Chair Dave Reed (R-Indiana)
One change in caucus leadership was in the Secretary post that was held by Rep. Jerry Stern (R-Blair) which will now be assumed by Rep. Mike Vereb from Montgomery County.
House Democrats will see significant changes and possibly a real transfer of power from eastern to western Pennsylvania since their Speaker of the House Keith McCall (Carbon) retired and Majority leader Todd Eachus (Luzerne) was defeated.
Rep. Frank Dermody (Allegheny) may be the new Minority Leader. One contest to watch is for the position of Appropriations Committee Chair where incumbent Dwight Evans (Phila.) is being challenged by Westmoreland County’s Joe Markosek. Caucus Secretary Mark Cohen (Phila.) is being challenged by Rep. Dan Frankel (Allegheny).
SENATE TO ALSO SELECT LEADERS
Senate GOP leadership remains the same with President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (Delaware) continuing. On the Democratic side, there is a contest between two powerful Senators, Jay Costa (Allegheny) and Michael Stack (Phila.), for the position of Minority Leader being vacated by Bob Mellow (Lackawanna) who retired. If Costa wins, that starts off a contest for Democratic Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee which he now heads. If Stack wins, there will be a vacancy as Democratic Chair of the Banking & Insurance Committee. Watch Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Phila.) as a contender.
CE REGULATION GOES TO IRRC
The long-awaited Insurance Department Continuing Education regulation goes to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) for final approval and a final opportunity for comment/approval from the House Insurance Committee and the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee. As expected, the Department will require training for insurance producers selling long-term care insurance, LTC Partnership policies, and reminds producers selling flood insurance that they must comply with National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) training requirements.
HEALTH LAW IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE TO MEET
The Rendell Administration’s Health Care Reform Implementation Advisory Committee meets November 17 in Harrisburg. This entity was established by Executive Order to aid the Governor’s Office of Health Care Reform to implement provisions of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Prior to the formal meeting, PAHU will address a subcommittee on the need to utilize insurance producers to market the new Exchanges mandated by PPACA. PAHU will state that the law (Act 147) requires producers to be used. Given the makeup of the Advisory Committee, agents may receive only a tepid reception. It is unclear how much currency the Rendell Advisory Committee’s report will have with the incoming Corbett Administration.
In a related matter, the US Department of Health & Human Services approved a $2 million grant to the PA Insurance Department to prepare for the Exchange component of the PPACA. A second use of the grant is for consumer education and to assist consumers with appeals. Although not mentioning it by name, this money may be possibly designed to achieve compliance with the insurance ombudsman requirement of PPACA.
- The Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) approved Insurance regulation 11-243 Standards to define Insurers Deemed to be in Hazardous Financial Condition
- IRRC disapproved regulations relative to funeral directors
- A Insurance Department press release reminds drivers to beware of deer particularly between 7:00 p.m. and midnight. It also reminds that a deer hitting the car will not result in auto insurance rate impact..
- PA Compensation Rating Bureau (www.pcrb.com) announced a series of Manual changes relating to bus operators and temporary staffing. These were approved by the Insurance Department and are effective December 1.
CORBETT ANNOUNCES TRANSITION HEADS
Pennsylvania Gov.-elect Tom Corbett announced the leaders of his transition team last Wednesday. Co-chairs are Christine Toretti, chairman and CEO of S.W. Jack Drilling Co. in Indiana, Pa, Jack Barbour, CEO of Pittsburgh-based Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney and Bill Sasso, chairman of the Phila. law firm Stradley Ronon.