California — California Supreme Court affirms bail regulation promoting jail security and fair competition in the bail industry: The Department of Insurance has notified bail agents that the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a long-standing regulation barring bail agents from entering into agreements with jail inmates to be notified when individuals have recently been arrested. The August 24, 2023, opinion in People v. Martinez reversed a lower court decision that had overturned the conviction of Monica Marie Martinez of Gilroy, one of 31 bail agents arrested in a law enforcement sweep in August 2015 known as “Operation Bail Out.”
In 2017, Martinez was convicted in Santa Clara County Superior Court as a result of a Department investigation that uncovered schemes by bail agents to scoop business away from competitors by rewarding jail inmates by adding money to their jail accounts for providing information about newly booked individuals in the jails. “Operation Bail Out” found that the schemes undermined security conditions within the jail because the inmates recruited to provide information concerning newly booked individuals would frequently threaten or pressure other inmates to engage the services of certain bail bond firms and would retaliate against those working for rival businesses.
Martinez was sentenced to three years formal probation and ordered to serve four months in custody in the county jail and the Department revoked Martinez’s bail agent license. In 2020, Martinez’s conviction was overturned by the California Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court opinion reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeal and remanded the matter back for further proceedings consistent with its opinion.
“Our Department’s oversight of the bail industry is essential to protecting public safety and upholding the fair administration of justice,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, who has sponsored legislation to expand licensing requirements and other bail reforms. “We will continue to take action against those who violate our laws and regulations to enrich themselves at the public’s expense while putting people’s safety at risk.”
In its ruling, the Supreme Court found that the state had asserted a substantial interest in deterring bail bond agents from engaging in forms of arrestee solicitation prohibited by other provisions of law, in promoting “sound, secure jail administration,” and in fair competition in the bail bond industry. As in People v. Dolezal, another case that addressed the Department’s regulation on solicitation of arrestees, the Court reinforced that soliciting bail is “commercial speech” that is subject to government regulation. Bail agents have enormous power over arrestees’ freedom and arrangements between bail agents and inmates undermines the ability to maintain institutional security in the jail environment and harms fair competition in the market place.
The Department of Insurance is committed to protecting consumers and has taken action to address current bail issues including the sponsoring of legislation. AB 2043, sponsored by Commissioner Lara and authored by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, requires all bail fugitive recovery agents, commonly known as “bounty hunters,” to be licensed by the Department of Insurance. This ensures that appropriate education and training requirements are met prior to licensure and that all applicants successfully pass fingerprint-based background checks, obtain an appointment from a licensed bail agent or surety insurer, and maintain a minimum $1 million liability insurance policy so that harmed consumers have an avenue to collect damages. Since the legislation has been enacted, over 100 new licenses have been issued for bail recovery agents.
New Mexico — Timely Access to Behavioral Health: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency over gun violence in Albuquerque and ordered a ban on concealed weapons.
The legal challenges were launched immediately and a federal judge has put the gun part of her executive order on hold. The other parts — like those forcing officials to address substance abuse and mental health problems — stayed.
That led New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance Alice Kane to issue an emergency order that will require all major insurers to insure out-of-network behavioral health benefits at in-network rates.
“My office is committed to reducing barriers to vital care and doing everything we can to improve timely access to critical behavioral health care services,” Kane said.
Source link: Insurance Business America — https://bit.ly/3RAqhpW
Oregon — Oregon joins multiple states in $10.2 million settlement with Robinhood: The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) announced that it has joined a multi-state settlement with Robinhood Financial LLC, which will pay up to $10.2 million in penalties for operational and technical failures that harmed investors, including some in Oregon.
The settlement stems from an investigation spearheaded by state securities regulators in Alabama, Colorado, California, Delaware, New Jersey, South Dakota and Texas coordinated through the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) regarding Robinhood’s operational failures with respect to the retail market.
The investigation was sparked by Robinhood platform outages in March 2020, a time when hundreds of thousands of investors were relying on the Robinhood app to make trades. In addition, before to March 2021, there were deficiencies at Robinhood in its review and approval process for options and margin accounts, weaknesses in the firm’s monitoring and reporting tools, and insufficient customer service and escalation protocols that in some cases left Robinhood users unable to process trades even as the value of certain stocks was dropping.
“This multi-state settlement is another example of states working together to protect investors,” said DFR Administrator TK Keen. “DFR is committed to holding companies like Robinhood accountable when it failed to protect those who have entrusted them.”
The order sets out the following violations:
Negligent dissemination of inaccurate information to customers, including regarding margin and risk associated with multi-leg option spreads.
Failure to have a reasonably designed customer identification program.
Failure to supervise technology critical to providing customers with core broker-dealer services.
Failure to have a reasonably designed system for dealing with customer inquiries.
Failure to exercise due diligence before approving certain option accounts.
Failure to report all customer complaints to FINRA and state securities regulators, as may be required.
Robinhood neither admits nor denies the findings as set out in the orders. Robinhood will provide access to a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)-ordered compliance implementation report to settling states. Robinhood retained an independent compliance consultant who made recommendations for remediation, which Robinhood has generally implemented.
One year after the settlement date, Robinhood will attest to the lead state, Alabama, that it is in full compliance with the FINRA-ordered independent compliance consultant’s recommendations or has otherwise instituted measures that are more effective at addressing the recommendations.
If you have questions or concerns about your investments or financial professional, please contact DFR at 1-888-877-4894 (toll-free) or email email@example.com.
Oregon — Updated Product Standards
440-2445 Stop Loss
440-3604 Crop, Hail, & Aircraft
440-3618 Monoline and Package Property
Current forms list has been added to our website:
This e-notify was distributed to the following groups:
● Rates & Forms Updated Product Standards
Washington — A Large Work Comp Rate Increase: The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries wants a 4.9% increase next year in the average hourly rate employers pay for workers’ compensation.
L&I Director Joel Sacks said economic uncertainty and pandemic impacts that are continuing to affect workers is the reason. He said he wants to find “a balance between charging enough to cover costs and keeping rates steady and predictable.”
Higher than normal wage increases are also behind the proposed rate hike.
Source link: Business Insurance — https://bit.ly/3RAqAB6
Washington — Best interest standard for annuities (R 2023-05) proposed rule posted: We have released the proposed rule language on R 2023-05. The rule will achieve alignment between the regulations in the Insurance Code with the new law in Chapter 64, Laws of 2023, and updates to NAIC Model Regulation # 275. OIC rulemaking will update training requirements, revise the prior ‘suitability standard’ with the new ‘best interest’ threshold (including consumer profile information), and generally achieve alignment between the applicable authorities, including terminology.
We scheduled a public hearing on the rule:
When: Tuesday, October 24, 2023, at 9:00 AM
Where: Please register for the meeting via Zoom
Comments on the proposed rule language are due by close of business (5 PM, PST) on Wednesday, October 25, 2023; please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, including the proposed rule language (CR-102), please visit the rule’s webpage.
Washington — Revising the prior authorization process prepublication draft posted: We have released a pre-publication draft for the revising the prior authorization process rule 2023-02. E2SHB 1357 (RCW 48.43.830) (leg.wa.gov) alters prior authorization requirements for commercial health plans under RCW 48.43 (leg.wa.gov). The new guidelines change prior authorization decision timelines, electronic and non-electronic submission standards, and communication and reporting requirements. OIC rulemaking is necessary to effectuate the bill’s language related to prior authorization timelines and processes and to address any inconsistencies between the bill and current rule language. The rules will facilitate implementation of the new law by ensuring that all affected entities understand their rights and obligations.
Comments on the pre-publication draft are due by close of business on Friday, September 29; please send them to email@example.com. For more information, including the text of the pre-publication draft, please visit the rule’s webpage.