2014 PIA Legislative Wrap-Up
2014 PIA LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP The Minnesota Legislature adjourned sine die last Friday evening, May 16th, following a couple of long days necessary to finish up a bonding bill, a tax relief bill a supplemental appropriations bill and, of course, the bill to allow the medical use of marijuana. Among those last-minute actions, were a couple of bills that PIA of Minnesota has been active on, including The Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (HF 3073) and the bulk sale of Driver’s License and Motor Vehicle Records(SF 1770).
The Insurance Fraud Prevention Act PIA and other industry colleagues were active in the interim between sessions and during this session with the Fraud Prevention Task Force, which collectively created SF 2372 a Senate bill that would have made substantial headway toward decreasing fraud in the no-fault auto insurance system by limiting accident solicitations, authorizing administrative penalties against medical service providers, providing immunity for insurance-related entities when disclosing or sharing information about fraudulent activities. The bill also increased the statutory amounts available for disability and income loss benefits, funeral and burial expenses and survivors economic loss benefits, along with setting up a task force to study the issue of auto insurance verification. The bill was a non-political, bi-partisan effort to prevent auto insurance fraud. Unfortunately, in the last days of the session, the debate became purely partisan and the Senate adopted the House language. HF 3073 does not contain several of the industry-supported reforms, but does include the immunity provisions, increases the disability and income loss benefits (to $500 per week from $250), increases funeral and burial expense provision (to $5,000 from $2,000) and increases survivor’s economic loss benefits (to $500 from $200). The bill DOES include the portion Task Force on Motor Vehicle Insurance Coverage Verification that will review and evaluate approaches to verification and make recommendations to the Legislature. This bill passed the House 72-55 and the Senate 41-21 and was signed by Governor Dayton on 5/21/2014.
Bulk Sale of Driver License and Motor Vehicle Records SF 1770, a data practices bill dealing with government contracts became the vehicle for language pertaining to bulk sales of driver license and motor vehicle records. The bill authorizes the DPS to sell the data in bulk, establishes a fee for such data sales, sets provisions for security audits and splits proceeds from the sale of data between DPS and the Legislative Auditor.
Insurance and Business Related Bills: Here are some other insurance and business related bills of interest:
HF 2695 This commerce bill modifies the requirements for Department of Commerce licensee education. The bill changes the defininitions of Classroom Course and Distance Learning Course to accommodate webinars. The bill contains 1 Unsession provision, and passed unanimously in both chambers. Signed by the Governor on 5/16/2014.
HF 2090 This bill prohibits certain indemnification agreements. This passed unanimously in both chambers and was signed by Governor Dayton on 5/16/2014.
SF 1246 This public safety bill requires a driver to stop and investigate possible personal injury or property damage following a collision. This bill passed the House 124–3 and the Senate 45-16. Signed on 5/1/2014.
HF 2853 This commerce bill regulates certain licensees. The bill modifies education requirements, enforcement provisions and other actions. The bill prohibits certain homeowner’s policy surcharges. The bill contains 22 Unsession provisions related to the federal conformity of insurance laws. The bill also enacts Unsession changes proposed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. This bill passed the House 102-23 and the Senate 56-0. Signed on 5/5/2014.
SF 1740 This bill requires all new smartphones sold in Minnesota after July 1, 2015, to have an anti-theft “kill switch” function. This new kill switch function will allow smartphone owners to remotely disable their smartphone if it is lost or stolen, rendering the devices useless to thieves and reducing the incentive for a growing wave of violent cell phone thefts. Signed on 5/14/2014.
SF 1689 This insurance bill authorizes certain benefits for Minnesota FAIR plan and Minnesota Joint Underwriting Association employees. The bill also provides conforming and technical changes. The bill passed the House 123-3 and the Senate 42-22. Signed by Governor Dayton on 4/30/2014.
SF 2065 This bill makes the Department of Labor and Industry’s Contractor Registration Pilot Program permanent, aligns Minnesota’s apprenticeship laws with the federal standards, and modifies municipal building code enforcement. The bill provides an exception to certain high pressure boiler requirements and requires a workgroup to study plumbing at certain resorts. This passed the House 82-48 and the Senate 40-18. Signed by the Governor on 5/21/2014.
HF 2605 This bill relates to the automated property system (APS) for tracking scrap metal and scrap vehicle transactions. It delays the implementation date and establishes parameters for a transaction fee. The bill passed the House 113-17 and the Senate 62-0. Signed by Governor Dayton on 5/1/2014.
HF 2854 This Unsession bill removes and modifies obsolete, unnecessary and redundant laws and rules administered by the Department of Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission. The bill eliminates obsolete laws like carrying fruit in an illegally sized container, regulating insurance policies sold in vending machines, and regulations specific to the telegraph. The bill contains 184 Unsession provisions and passed unanimously in both chambers. Signed by Governor Dayton on 5/9/2014.
HF 3072 This transportation bill modernizes provisions governing motor vehicles and eliminates antiquated, unnecessary, and obsolete provisions. This bill contains 21 Unsession provisions, including repealing a law that made it illegal to drive a car in neutral. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers and was signed by Governor Dayton on 5/16/2014.
HF 2658 This Unsession bill adopts recommendations from the Workers' Compensation Advisory Council. This bill contained 7 Unsession provisions. The bill passed unanimously in both chambers. Signed on 4/30/2014.
HF 2091 The bill increases the minimum wage in Minnesota to $9.50 per hour by 2016, and indexes it to inflation. This bill passed the House 71-60 and the Senate 35-31. Signed by Governor Dayton on 4/14/2014.
When all is said and done, those in the industry would tend to agree that it was generally a pretty good session for insurance. No bad-for-insurance bills got anywhere, and while we did not get all of the reforms we had hoped for, there was a lot of time and attention spent on insurance fraud awareness and prevention, which can be considered a good start and progress toward future efforts.