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Back in the News — ObamaCare, Trump & Tweets

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

President Trump has backed off on a new push to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

 

All last week President Trump pushed Republicans — especially those in the Senate — to repeal and replace ObamaCare. He declared the Republican Party the party of healthcare and insisted plans everyone will “love” are in the works.

 

Trump made that pronouncement several times to anyone listening. One tweet went like this: “The Republicans are developing a really great HealthCare Plan with far lower premiums (cost) & deductibles than ObamaCare,” he said. “In other words it will be far less expensive & much more usable than ObamaCare.”

 

Sen. Chuck Grassley chairs the Senate Finance Committee. His committee handles health care. So does Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Neither Senator was told that Trump was going to encourage further undoing of ObamaCare and the passage of something new.

 

Both worry the decision is going to send the Republicans back into another healthcare battle with Democrats. That’s not a good idea — they say — because the public likes a lot of what ObamaCare does.

 

And neither senator said their committees are working on anything resembling a plan. “Obamacare is something that’s not going to be replaced unless the courts would declare it unconstitutional,” Grassley said. “You won’t know that for a long time.”

 

Now the president has backed off and late Monday night and early Tuesday morning tweeted that the reforms will have to wait until after the 2020 election. Along with those tweets was his usual bashing of ObamaCare.

 

“Vote will be taken right after the Election when Republicans hold the Senate & win back the House,” Trump tweeted. “It will be truly great HealthCare that will work for America.”

 

But Trump has no plan.

 

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso says he’s talked with the president about repeal and replacing ObamaCare and that he actually does have ideas on what to do.

 

“He wants to preserve people being able to get their insurance through work and focused on people with preexisting conditions,” Barrasso said. “He is 100 percent committed to ensuring that people with preexisting conditions get covered, and I understand that and the president is also focused on lowering the cost of drugs.”

 

Barrasso says he — personally — has a plan and would work toward making it happen. He has pushed letting companies purchase limited-term health insurance free from many of ObamaCare’s mandated rules. A court — as we’ll see at the end of this story — has said no to that idea.

 

Other Republican ideas include that of Republican Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. They would rather see health care run by the states and are in favor of sending each state a block grant to handle those needs.

 

Graham has also urged the president to sit down with Democrats to come up with a bipartisan deal. So far — as you know — that hasn’t happened.

 

One of the reasons Trump backed off his surprise push last week can be summed up by the attitude of New York Republican Rep. Tom Reed. He said right now the big worry Trump and Republicans ought to focus on is the reaction of the public to any thoughts of repeal and replace.

 

This is especially true if the Supreme Court upholds Texas U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor’s recent ObamaCare ruling. “Repealing the entire law — or knocking it down in the court system with no plan to address the impasse — leaves millions of Americans in harm’s way, and they didn’t do anything,” Reed said. “We owe it to the American people to have a solid plan in place before that occurs.”

 

Maine’s moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins — like others — wants the president to slow down. She likes that he’s wanting Republicans to be known as the party of health care.

 

“I believe that he’s sort of got the cart before the horse, that you need to have a plan for what a replacement would be that would improve upon the ACA,” Collins said. “There are some very important, good provisions of the ACA that have helped expand health insurance for low-income Americans. I would not want to see those abandoned.”

 

Plus, Republicans are very conscious of how the public views ObamaCare. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found:

 

  50% of us have a favorable view of ObamaCare

  39% do not favor the law

 

One thing that may have stopped Trump from his ObamaCare repeal and replace stance is comments from Republicans in the Senate and House that don’t want to be named. Those comments go something like this:

 

  “It doesn’t seem to make sense politically.”

  “We would be crazy to try to go through what we went through again.”

  “I would think [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell and crew would be using their influence to get the administration to stop this.”

  Trump is “throwing down a challenge in advance of the elections which makes it even more difficult.”

  “If you look at past history, we don’t really know how to do it.”

 

Another negative for the president comes from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who has said he’s not willing to do anything until the president presents a plan. But — again — the president has not proposed anything.

 

McConnell has emphasized he’d rather see Republicans going after Democrats and the push of some — especially many of those now running for president — to provide Medicare for All.

 

Like many in the party, McConnell is remembering the November mid-term election in which dozens of seats were lost in the House because Democrats were able to successfully attack Republicans for their insistence that ObamaCare be repealed and then failing to do so.

 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is also worried that all Republicans are seen as wanting to do away with ObamaCare’s pre-existing condition rule. This perception — he says — will play into the hands of critical Democrats. If push comes to shove and something involving repeal and replace actually happens, then McCarthy says Republicans will take care of those with the most need.

 

“I’ll make this promise to you — and it’s a conversation I had with the president — the Republicans will make sure pre-existing conditions are protected,” McCarthy said. “The president and I have talked numerous times. We talked quite often. But this is one of the conversations we have, greatly, that we support protecting pre-existing conditions,” he said.

 

All this started In December when Judge O’Connor ruled since the income tax reforms of 2018 did away with the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, the entire law is unconstitutional. Of course, that decision will be appealed and will ultimately end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

In the meantime, the Department of Justice said since Reed made his decision, the pre-existing conditions of ObamaCare should also go away along with the law. What the Justice Department didn’t say was whether or not it would make a push to permanently do away with that ObamaCare mandate.

 

Plus, Reed’s decision came with instructions that the law should stay in place until the Supreme Court can do something final.

 

At the same time, in the District of Columbia, U.S. District Judge John Bates blocked a new rule from the Trump administration that says small businesses can band together to purchase health plans outside of ObamaCare that are less expensive and that offer less protections.

 

Bates — an appointee of President George W. Bush — said, “The Final Rule is clearly an end-run around the ACA. Indeed, as the President directed, and the Secretary of Labor confirmed, the Final Rule was designed to expand access to AHPs to avoid the most stringent requirements of the ACA.”

 

Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco said the administration disagrees with Bates’ decision. It will likely appeal.

 

“The Administration will continue to fight for sole proprietors and small businesses so that they can have the freedom to band together to obtain more affordable, quality healthcare coverage,” Laco said. “The Association Health Plan rule opened healthcare options for dozens of associations representing thousands of small businesses and sole proprietors and provided them with access to the same type of affordable healthcare options offered by other employers.”

 

The administration also suffered a major defeat recently when a different Washington D.C.-based U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg said work requirements cannot be required for some recipients to get the Medicaid benefits providing health care.

 

That case involved individuals in Kentucky and Arkansas.

 

Source links: MSN, The Hill — link 1, link 2, The Washington Post — link 1, link 2, Associated Press

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Tags:  insurance content  insurance industry news  President Trump has backed off on a new push to re 

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Self-Driving Vehicles — Still Pretty Scary

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

AAA just released a study on self-driving vehicles. It found the concept is much loved by technology companies and the auto industry but not so much by consumers.

 

A year ago — before the fatal crash by an Uber test vehicle and other high-profile crashes — 63% of us said we are afraid to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle. The current survey says that figure has grown to 71%.

 

Greg Brannon is AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations. He said, “It’s possible that the sustained level of fear is rooted in a heightened focus, whether good or bad, on incidents involving these types of vehicles. Also it could simply be due to a fear of the unknown.”

 

We are — however — willing to trust vehicles with limited automated applications.

 

  53% said they trust the technology in low-speed, short-distance forms

  44% said they’re comfortable with autonomous food-delivery vehicles

  Just 20% said they trust an autonomous vehicle to transport their loved ones

 

AAA said personal experience will likely improve how we view these vehicles. It points to things like adaptive cruise control, emergency braking and the stay-in-your-lane features of many of today’s modern autos as proof. At least they require a driver to remain alert and focused on the road.

 

The autonomous vehicle does not.

 

“Despite fears still running high, AAA's study also shows that Americans are willing to take baby steps toward incorporating this type of technology into their lives,” Brannon said. “Hands-on exposure in more controlled, low-risk environments coupled with stronger education will play a key role in easing fears about self-driving cars.”

 

While a heavy majority of us don’t look forward to the arrival of the self-driving vehicle, a huge percentage said it’s just a matter of time before they get here, and are here to stay. A slim majority — 55% — said they think most cars will have the ability to drive themselves by 2029.

 

Those not wanting them to get here by 2029 — or get here at all — said:

 

  They don’t want to give up driving

  They don’t trust autonomous vehicles

  They have issues with technology

 

One interesting factoid from the AAA report has to do with the manufacturers. The companies doing the heaviest lifting on the technology are working to make them available for ride-sharing like Lyft, Uber or taxis, or for delivery services.

 

It’s these services — Brannon said — that will help ease us into the future. ”Americans are willing to take baby steps toward incorporating this type of technology into their lives,” he pointed out. “Hands-on exposure in more controlled, low-risk environments coupled with stronger education will play a key role in easing fears.”

 

Source links: The Drive, Insurance Journal, PropertyCasualty360.com

 

Find out how you can write SAIF

 

 

Tags:  autonomous vehicle 2019  Self-Driving Vehicle  uber 

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PG&E — Bankruptcy & a New Board

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

As you know Pacific Gas & Electric — AKA PG&E — declared bankruptcy in January. The company has been blamed for billions in losses and the loss of lives from a series of wildfires that devastated California.

 

In order to continue to operate while in Chapter 11 reorganization the company has asked Judge Dennis Montali of the San Francisco’s U.S. Bankruptcy Court for permission to borrow $5.5 billion. It will maintain electricity and natural gas delivery to consumers while the company reorganizes.

 

The judge granted the request.

 

And while the company looks for cash, it is also trying to reorganize internally starting with a redo of the board of directors. The announced plan is to add hedge fund financiers and — Governor Gavin Newsom says — people with little or no experience in the operation of a utility and the safety involved in that operation.

 

He is pushing PG&E to go a different direction. “With this move, PG&E would send a clear message that it is prioritizing quick profits for Wall Street over public safety and reliable and affordable energy service,” Newsom wrote in a letter to PG&E’s interim CEO John Simon.

 

That letter was made public.

 

It came when one of the major shareholders — BlueMountain Capital Management — criticized the bankruptcy decision and put out its own slate of new board members. There are 13 of them.

 

“PG&E needs a board with proven experience in safety, claims resolution, utility operations, finance and turnarounds, and California business and public policy,” BlueMountain Capital said in its statement.

 

PG&E shared the names of the candidates for the board with the governor but neither the company nor the governor made those names public. Spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo said PG&E understands the governor’s concern.

 

“We recognize the importance of adding perspectives to the Board that will bring about the right changes in safety, as well as help address the serious operational and financial challenges the business faces now and in the future,” she said.

 

In his letter Newsom said PG&E must have a board remake that reflects the need and that need is experts in regulation, safety and clean energy. This group does not fill that bill.

 

“Any new board member should be resolved to change the culture of the company, understand the concerns of ratepayers and demonstrate a commitment to the fair treatment of wildfire victims and employees,” Newsom wrote.

 

Advocates like the Utility Reform Network — a consumer advocacy group — are happy with the governor’s stance. Network executive director Mark Toney said, “It was a very good thing for the governor to serve notice that replacing the board with the same kind of Wall Street interests that have put profits in front of safety for so many years is not going to solve the problem.”

 

Source links: Reuters, WTOP

Tags:  declared bankruptcy in January  Pacific Gas & Electric  PG&E  wildfires that devastated California 

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A Frightening Cyber Security Statistic — Under-Staffed Staffs

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

ISACA is a global group that helps individuals and businesses with technology issues like cyber security. It just did some research on the problem of finding cyber security professionals to assist with the defense of a company’s data bases and other information.

 

The results are frightening.

 

A whopping 69% of the security people quizzed said the lure of more pay other places makes it very, very difficult to keep personnel. That same issue also makes it difficult to find people to work in the cyber security endeavors of the company.

 

As a result:

 

  69% say they are understaffed

  57% say they offer increased training as an incentive to stay

  But 82% say most leave for other companies offering higher salaries, bonuses and promotions

  58% say — as a result — they have unfilled positions

 

ISACA’s board chairman Rob Clyde said, “We’re in a highly fluid environment where organizations are increasingly challenged by competitive forces. Creative and competitive retention efforts are more important than ever in the current environment, and organizations should make it a priority to identify ways to boost their cyber security teams.”

 

By the way:

 

  Just 45% of the females responding think men and women have an equal shot at advancement

  That’s down from 51% a year ago

  Less than half of the cyber security organizations polled have a gender diversity program

 

Source link: Digital Insurance

 

 

Tags:  Cyber insurance  Cyber Security  insurance content 2019 

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Wrapping Up Women’s History Month: Gender Parity

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

March was Women’s History Month. Each year you’ll find dozens of stories about the accomplishments of women and their importance to the history of human kind. One we ran across that was fascinating covered gender equality and how we’re doing in the push to find parity.

 

The story looked at how over the last couple of years gender parity has jumped to the forefront of American politics. The issue has also found its way into businesses and homes around the country.

 

So how are we really doing? The answer might be best answered by Bloomberg. Each year the news service does a ranking of the best states for gender parity.

 

Vermont — one of the first states to grant women partial voting rights — is the currently the best state for gender parity. It has been for the last three years. Minnesota is second and Maryland third.

 

There are five-categories in the survey to determine which state has the best parity:

 

  Media pay ratio by gender

  Female labor force participation

  College degree attainment

  Health coverage

  Women in poverty

 

These are the best states for overall gender equality. None of the nine PIA Western Alliance states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon or Washington — are in the top 10 but they do fairly well overall. They also do well in the best states for female leadership.

 

1. Vermont

Last year — 1

Year to year change — 0

Equality score — 86.40

 

2. Minnesota

Last year — 2

Year to year change — 0

Equality score — 85.60

 

3. Maryland

Last year — 4

Year to year change — +1

Equality score — 83.60

 

4. Hawaii

Last year — 3

Year to year change — -1

Equality score — 83.20

 

5. Massachusetts

Last year — 5

Year to year change — 0

Equality score — 80.80

 

The rest of the top-10

 

6. Colorado

7. Connecticut

8. New Hampshire

9. Maine & North Dakota (tie)

11. Rhode Island

 

The PIA Western Alliance States:

 

16. Montana — tie with Illinois

Last year — 27

Year to year change — +10

Equality score — 58.80

 

21. Oregon

Last year — 24

Year to year change — +3

Equality score — 55.20

 

22. California

Last year — 25

Year to year change — +3

Equality score — 54.00

 

22. Washington

Last year — 21

Year to year change — -1

Equality score — 54.00

 

25. Alaska

Last year — 20

Year to year change — -5

Equality score — 51.20

 

30. Nevada

Last year — 31

Year to year change — +2

Equality score — 42.40

 

35. Arizona

Last year — 35

Year to year change — 0

Equality score — 38.80

 

39. New Mexico

Last year — 43

Year to year change — +4

Equality score — 31.20

 

46.Idaho

Last year — 47

Year to year change — 0

Equality score — 18.80

 

These are the best states for female leadership. Three PIA Western Alliance states, Washington, Oregon and California are in the top-10:

 

1. Maryland

Last year — 1

Year to year change — 0

Equality score — 82.30

 

2. Washington

Last year — 5

Year to year change — +3

Equality score — 80.60

 

3. Virginia

Last year — 12

Year to year change — +9

Equality score — 78.50

 

4. Massachusetts

Last year — 4

Year to year change — 0

Equality score — 78.10

 

5. Maine

Last year — 15

Year to year change — +10

Equality score — 77.50

 

The rest of the top 10

 

6.Vermont

 

7. Oregon

Last year — 2

Year to year change — -5

Equality score — 75.10

 

8. Colorado

9. New York

 

10. California

Last year — 11

Year to year change — +1

Equality score — 68.60

 

The rest of the PIA Western Alliance states:

 

14. Arizona

Last year — 17

Year to year change — +3

Equality score — 63.30

 

16. New Mexico

Last year — 18

Year to year change — +2

Equality score — 62.60

 

21. Alaska

Last year — 24

Year to year change — +3

Equality score — 59.30

 

24. Nevada

Last year — 25

Year to year change — +1

Equality score — 52.00

 

31. Montana

Last year — 34

Year to year change — +3

Equality score — 41.20

 

34. Idaho

Last year — 41

Year to year change — +7

Equality score — 35.80

 

Source link: Bloomberg

Tags:  Bloomberg  gender parity  Woman's history month 

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What can MAPFRE do for you?

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

MAPFRE is a proud supporter of the PIA Western Alliance's KKLUB.


What can Mapfre help you with?

 

Quick Links

 

 

 

 

Global Presence
MAPFRE Across the Globe - MAPFRE S.A.
  • Is a multinational group present in 49 countries with more than 38,000 employees
  • Is the number one non-life insurer in Latin America, and one of the top 20 reinsurers in the world
  • Insures over 13.2 million cars and over 5 million homes
 
Local Focus
Serving California, Oregon, Washington & Idaho
  • Offers a wide range of insurance solutions for the home, vehicle, life and travel
  • Is the 21st largest Property-Casualty Insurer
  • Is the 19th largest private passenger auto insurer
  • Has a network of more than 4,600 independent agents and broker
  • Has a presence in 19 states
  • Rated "A" (Excellent) by A.M. Best


Tags:  KKLUB PIA  Mapfre Insurance  PIA Western Alliance 

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Aggressive Driving — A Fascinating Study

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, April 2, 2019


 

GasBuddy is a website devoted to helping consumers find the lowest possible gas prices. It also worries about aggressive driving which — in turn — leads to more gas guzzling.

 

The website says frustrated drivers regularly break the speed limit, accelerate rapidly, and do equally rapid braking. All reduce gas milage by as much as 40%. Or if you’re counting dollars, that’s about $477 a year in additional fuel costs.

 

These are the top-10 cities with the most aggressive drivers. Five of the 10 are PIA Western Alliance state cities. Four are from California and — number 10 — is Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

1.    Los Angeles

2.    Philadelphia

3.    Sacramento, Calif.

4.    Atlanta

5.    San Francisco

6.    San Diego

7.    Orlando, Fla.

8.    Detroit

9.    Austin, Texas

10. Las Vegas

 

GasBuddy’s petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan says Los Angeles also has the most expensive gas prices in the country at an average of $3.35 per gallon.

 

“Frustration while driving in densely populated cities with high levels of congestion leads motorists to drive more aggressively and with more urgency. Interestingly, these are areas that typically see some of the highest gas prices in their respective states,” he pointed out. “With drivers in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Sacramento and Atlanta being 20 percent more aggressive than the average driver in America, it’s particularly important for commuters and rideshare drivers in these areas to work on shedding their lead foot and relax more to keep money from flying out the window each time they hit the road.”

 

Here is more information from the study

 

The PIA Western Alliance cities in the top 20 to top 30:

 

27. Portland, Oregon

29. Seattle, Washington

 

These are the most frequent aggressive driving habits:

 

1. Hard braking

2. Accelleration

3. Speeding

 

These are the most frequent aggressive driving habits on weekends:

 

1. Hard braking

2. Speeding

3. Accelleration

 

The day with the most aggressive driving events is Friday. The fewest comes on Wednesday but all days — except for Friday and Sunday — are in the negative when compared to the average of the top-10 cities.

 

The most aggressive driving is done on Friday and Saturday.

 

Aggressive driving days:

 

Sunday — -4.60%

Monday — -2.80%

Tuesday — -4.39%

Wednesday — -5.59%

Thursday — -3.46%

Friday — 10.04%

Saturday — 6.81%

 

Top cities by hard-breaking incidents by percentage of more hard breaking than the average driver:

 

1. Philadelphia — 24.18%

2. Los Angeles — 18.38%

3. San Francisco — 16.05%

4. Sacramento — 12.57%

5. Atlanta — 9.09%

 

The PIA Western Alliance states hard braking statistics:

 

7. San Diego — 5.61%

10. Portland — 4.45%

 

PIA Western Alliance cities in the negative:

 

16. Seattle — -1.35%

18. Las Vegas — -4.84%

24. Phoenix — -8.32%

 

Top speeding cities where drivers speed more than the average driver:

 

1. San Diego — 61.50%

2. Orlando — 56.61%

3. Detroit — 56.61%

4. Sacramento — 46.82%

5. Atlanta — 46.82%

 

The PIA Western Alliance states:

 

12. Las Vegas — 7.67%

13. San Francisco — 2.77%

 

PIA Western Alliances states in the negative for speeding:

 

28. Portland — - 55.95%

30. Seattle — -70.64%

 

Rapid acceleration incidents more or less than the average U.S. driver:

 

1. Los Angeles — 26.51%

2. Philadelphia — 26.51%

3. Las Vegas — 15.66%

4. San Francisco — 12.05%

5. Miami-Fort Lauderdale — 12.05%

 

The PIA Western Alliance states:

 

9. Sacramento — 4.82%

 

In the negative:

 

18. San Diego — -2.41%

26. Portland — -13.25%

27. Seattle — -13.25%

 

Source link: GasBuddy

Tags:  frustrated drivers  Gas Buddy  top 10 cities with the most aggressive drivers 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Oregon

Republicans, Taxes & the Legislature: The Oregon Republican Party is commenting on a bunch of tax bills being considered by the Oregon Legislature and propelled forward by Democrats.

 

Here’s what the party had to say.

 

While Oregonians rush to file their returns by April 15, Democrats are feverishly pushing an array of tax bills that will burden the state’s working families with billions more in taxes — some that won’t even show up on your tax forms.

 

Already the Democrats are flexing their super-majority muscle by stacking not one, not two, but four new taxes to grab more of Oregonian’s income. Democrats bring you:

 

  A statewide consumption tax on business sales

  A carbon reduction regulations program

  A payroll tax on every employer to fund a new Paid Family Leave program

  An increase in the state’s corporate income tax rate

 

Oregonians have resoundingly rejected sales tax proposals at the ballot box nine times.  Most recently, nearly 60% of the voters said No to Measure 97. Democrats aren’t risking voter rejection this time. The majority party is poised to pass a hidden sales tax on businesses that will raise the cost of everything you buy. It won’t show up on your grocery or hardware store receipts, but you will be paying for the added cost of living imposed by the Democrats.

 

The so-called Green Jobs Bill is nothing more than a ruse to foist a powerful new bureaucracy under the governor’s control. Oregonians will see an additional 16-cent per gallon tax at the pump on top of the 12-cent tax Democrats added two years ago. Every time hard-working Oregonians and their families drive to their jobs, to shop, to school, to church, to hunt and fish, they will be paying more.

 

The immediate hike in natural gas prices will also increase the cost of heating Oregonian’s homes. HB 2146 will raise Oregon’s S Corporation — small business — filing fees nearly 600% to $1,000 annually. It’s a tax that can’t be recovered by any means other than passing it along to customers. All of this comes while Oregon is taking in record revenue.

Tags:  The Oregon Republican Party is commenting on a bun 

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PIA Western Alliance Recognizes 3 New Designation Recipients

Posted By Staff reporter, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

 xxxxCongratulations!

Penny Farrow, CISR Elite

Tabitha Batten, CISR

Lauren Kearbey, CIC

 

Tags:  CIC  CISR  CISR Elite Designations 

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Washington House & 9.9% Capital Gains Tax

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Former PIA Washington Alaska President Dick Fournier.

Legislatures are always seeking ways to raise income to support state governments. Name the state and business is almost always a target. In this case the state is Washington and its governor, Jay Inslee — now a candidate for U.S. President — wants a 9% capital gains tax.

Inslee needs it to support his budget — a budget that includes $52.8 billion in state spending.

Democrats in the Washington Legislature are in agreement with most of the governor’s budget raising proposals including the capital gains tax. For weeks, that has been one of the centers of discussion as Democrats in the House and Senate worked on their own versions of a budget.

Earlier this week one was finally submitted in the Washington House. It calls for $1.4 billion in new revenue. Much of that money will come from 9.9% capital gains tax on the earnings from the sale of stocks, bonds and other assets.

House Democrats have added 0.9% to the governor’s request. The 9.9% comes into play for individuals with taxable incomes of $100,000 or more, and it sits at $200,000 for couples. Members of the House Finance Committee say the tax will only impact 14,000 households.

Among the 14,000 impacted are the independent insurance agents and agencies of PIA Washington/Alaska. The “other assets” part of the equation is the sale of their businesses.

Former PIA Washington/Alaska President Dick Fournier — the head of the Fournier Group — said the independent insurance agents of the PIA, “are among the hardest working people in the state. This is a top-heavy tax that is not fair and that will reduce the value of the business built by hard-working entrepreneurs.”

That comment came earlier this year when he testified at a Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing on a 9% capital gains tax. Fourier told the committee that hundreds of small businesses will be hurt if the capital gains tax passes.

“For many of us decades of work began small. We worked nights and on weekends, and sometimes seven days a week,” he told committee members. “Our client lists often came from a phone book and we reached them via telephone. As the business grew the plan was to eventually sell and use the profit of that sale for retirement.”

He said a 9% capital gains tax wasn’t factored into his business plan.

PIA Washington Lobbyist Mel Sorensen agrees the 9% tax is oppressive and said it will adversely affect PIA members, many of whom have spent their entire business careers building their business. He pointed out that this tax is “very, very unfair and — in a way — punitive. For many, they have spent their entire professional careers building their businesses. The value in their business is frequently what they plan to rely on for their retirements. It’s simply damaging to expose them to a new 9% capital gains tax.”

It is for those reasons — and others — that the PIA Washington/Alaska opposed the 9% proposal in the Senate and this proposal.

Our opposition faces stiff opposition. Rep. Gael Tarleton is a Democrat and chairs the House Finance Committee. She said the 9.9% capital gains tax is an attempt to bring “tax fairness” to Washington, one of the few states without a personal income tax.

“Wealth continues to concentrate in the hands of fewer and fewer individuals who pay less and less into critical public investments as a proportion of their accumulated wealth,” she said. “This wealth is not generating the revenue we need to serve the interests and needs of 7 1/2 million Washingtonians.”

In an interview earlier this year with Weekly Industry News, Sorensen noted the comments about tax fairness leads to another problem with a capital gains tax. It is based on an income tax system and Washington State’s constitution does not allow one.

“Federal law defines the measure of tax on NET capital gain income,” he said. “Although the Governor's capital gains tax plan may call it an ‘excise tax and ‘for the privilege of selling or exchanging long-term capital assets, or receiving Washington capital gains,’ the departments of revenue for every state with a capital gains tax classify it as an income tax.”

Experts say the tax — if passed and signed by the governor — will undoubtedly end up on court.

Republican Rep. Drew Stokesbary serves on the House Finance Committee. He opposes the idea and says even if the courts make it legal, passing this kind of tax is irresponsible. “If we have a recession coming up, it will be difficult to balance the budget if we're dependent on capital gains as part of state revenues,” he said. “The fact of the matter is we can fund all of our priorities without raising taxes.”

By the way, the House budget exempts retirement accounts, primary residencies and the sale of agricultural and timberlands, cattle, horses and other breeding stock.

The target date for passing the budget and sending it to the Senate is this Friday and if a Senate budget has not been submitted by the time you read this story, you can expect one very soon.

Source links: Weekly Industry News — link 1, link 2, The Tri-City Herald

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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