California — Earthquake Mitigation
The bill is called the Earthquake Mitigation Incentive and Tax Parity Act of 2017. It comes from Democrat Rep. Mike Thompson of St. Helena and Republican Rep. Paul Cook of Yucca Valley. They want — as an incentive to retrofit a property for earthquake protection — to exempt those retrofits from federal taxation.
California’s Residential Mitigation Program’s Earthquake Brace + Bolt program offers homeowners up to $3,000 for a $3,000 to $5,000 retrofit. It’s a grant and as a grant is taxable under federal law.
“The South-Napa earthquake damaged more than 1,500 homes in 2014, making it clear we need to do more to help residents prepare for disasters. These tax incentives will encourage homeowners to make the necessary retrofits to protect their homes — reducing damage from earthquakes, saving lives, and saving the government money in the long run. California has already seen the value of these retrofits, which is why they are exempt from state taxes. It is time for the federal government to follow suit,” Thompson said.
Source link: Insurance Journal
California — Ricardo Lara Runs for Commissioner: California State Senator Ricardo Lara — a Democrat — is going to run for state insurance commissioner in 2018. His reason for running? President Trump’s attack on the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m running to be California’s next state insurance commissioner because I believe at my core that California needs a strong defender, and a counterpuncher, who will stand up to fight our bullying President, Donald Trump, and his increasingly reckless federal government on issues from healthcare access to economic security and more,” Lara told the Los Angeles Times.
Source link: Insurance Business America
Idaho — Disability/Health Insurance Carriers in Group or Individual Markets
This bulletin to carriers in the employer and individual health insurance markets provides guidance regarding the extension of non-grandfathered transitional plans (also known as “grandmothered” plans) through December 31, 2018.
Bulletin No. 13-05 addressed carriers continuing to offer grandmothered individual and small employer policies in existence on October 1, 2013 at their 2014 renewal. Subsequent federal guidance allowed for further extensions of these plans, which the Department chose to allow. Bulletin No. 16-03 set forth the requirements for extension of grandmothered plans through December 31, 2017. New CMS guidance, released February 23, 2017, allows states the option of extending the grandmothered plans for an additional year, through December 31, 2018.
Grandmothered plans in the Idaho individual and small group markets will be permitted to extend through December 31, 2018. Carriers must continue to abide by the requirements of Bulletin No. 16-03 for all renewals of grandmothered plans through December 31, 2017. This will result in all grandmothered plans being on a calendar year renewal schedule; policyholders of those plans must then be offered a renewal for the 12-month period beginning January 1, 2018.
The grandmothered plans must continue to comply with the following ACA provisions:
• Elimination of annual dollar limits on EHB as defined by the Idaho benchmark plan, to the extent the grandmothered plans cover EHB
• No pre-existing condition exclusion (small groups)
• Waiting periods not to exceed 90 days (small groups)
• Mental health parity rules (individual plans upon renewal July 1, 2014 or later; not applicable to small group plans)
Carriers are required to provide a notice at renewal which informs the individual or small employer of the option to renew the existing coverage or to enroll in a new plan on or off Your Health Idaho, and includes the information that some ACA market reforms are not included in their current plans. The notice, available on the Department website, must be used without modification, and must be mailed without any other materials except for a cover letter, which may include the renewal premium.
If you have questions concerning this bulletin, please contact Kathy McGill or Wes Trexler at the Department of Insurance.
Washington — Uber Unionizing
The city of Seattle is the first city in the nation to allow Uber drivers to unionize. That — of course — was challenged by Uber but Washington Judge Beth Andrus rejected the argument against. She didn’t buy Uber’s contention about collective bargaining.
Seattle University associate law professor Charlotte Garden said, “This is a victory for Seattle and the Teamsters. It means the process of attempting to organize drivers can continue under the same ground rules regarding which drivers will vote on unionization.”
In response Uber’s Brooke Steger said, “The city’s collective bargaining ordinance rules deny thousands of Seattle drivers a voice and a vote on their future. We were forced to pursue a novel legal approach because the city provided no other way to challenge this deeply flawed process.”
Source link: Insurance Journal
Washington — Kreidler on Distracted Driving
Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is advocating for two distracted driving bills that the Washington’s state Legislature is considering.
Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1371, sponsored by Rep. Jessyn Farrell, and Substitute Senate Bill 5289, sponsored by Sen. Ann Rivers, would make more stringent the law about texting and driving. The bills would make it illegal for a driver to hold a hand-held device, such as a cell phone or tablet, while on a public roadway, even when stopped. The fine for the infraction would double for those who are ticketed a second or third time within five years.
“I strongly support the Washington state Legislature’s work to crack down on distracted driving. The data shows that distracted driving accidents are increasing, largely because of cell phones and other electronic devices.
“This is a public-safety issue. Distracted driving isn’t just damaging cars, it’s hurting and killing people – kids, bicyclists, and anyone who isn’t in a car when distracted drivers happen to pass them.
“Furthermore, the increased accident rate is driving up insurance premiums statewide.
“The Washington Traffic Safety Commission released a study of drivers last month that found 9 to 14 percent of drivers were actively using a phone or other device while driving. This is a dangerous statistic. In 2014, distracted driving was a factor in more than 43,000 collisions in Washington state, seven times higher than the number of drivers who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“Strengthening the law and penalties against distracted driving will encourage people to give driving their full attention and save lives. Fewer accidents also help consumers by lowering insurance rates. These bills would improve public safety for everyone.”