LEG REG REVIEW 2015, 1st Issue *** January 12, 2015

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).  Subscription information may be obtained by contacting PHILLIPS ASSOCIATES at 717/728-1217 FAX 717/232-7005 or e-mail to xenobun@aol.com.  Please email jtrout2792@aol.com supplying both your name and e-mail address if you wish to be removed from or added to this list.

 

CONSEDINE SAYS NO

PA Insurance Commissioner and NAIC President-Elect Michael Consedine indicated January 9 that he would not stay on as Insurance Commissioner after Governor-elect Wolf takes office January 20.  From his announcement: “To my friends and colleagues around the globe – So as the saying goes, “all good things must come to end.”  Such is the case with my time as Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner and NAIC President-Elect.   The tenure of my Governor expires on January 20th and the time has come for me to also move on.  It was a difficult decision but one that is in the best interests of the Governor-Elect given the direction of the new administration.  The Governor-Elect indicated that he had received strong support from around the country and even the globe for my retention but my ability to effectively represent him and his policies must come first.”

If you want to thank him for his service, his personal email is mconsedine@gmail.com.

 

LEGISLATIVE SESSION BEGINS

On January 6, Representatives and Senators were formally sworn in to begin their legislative duties for the 2015-16 session.  The list of issues repeats from last year: State Budget shortfall; pension funding; liquor store privatization; property tax reform; and others.  The difference is a new Democratic Governor and a legislature that is more Republican and more conservative than the last.  As expected, elected were Rep. Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) as Speaker of the House and Joseph Scarnati (R-Clearfield) as Senate President Pro Tempore.

 

HOUSE COMMITTEE CHAIRS ANNOUNCED (Bolded means new)

Committee                                          Majority (Republican)                      Minority (Democrat)                        

Aging                                                   Tim Hennessey (Chester)                     Steve Samuelson (Northampton)

Agriculture/Rural Affairs                  Martin Causer (McKean)                  John Sabatina (Phila.)

Children/Youth                                                Katherine Watson (Bucks)                   Louise Bishop (Phila.)

Commerce                                           Adam Harris (Juniata)                       Curtis Thomas (Phila.)

Consumer Affairs                                Bob Godshall (Montgomery)               Peter Daley (Washington)

Education                                            Stan Saylor (York)                             James Roebuck (Phila.)

Environmental Resources/Energy     John Maher (Washington)                 Greg Vitali (Delaware)

Finance                                               Bernie O’Neill (Bucks)                                   Jake Wheatley (Allegheny)

Gaming & Fish                                   Keith Gillespie (York)                                    Ted Harhai (Westmoreland)

Gaming Oversight                              John Payne (Dauphin)                         Nick Kotik (Allegheny)

Health                                                  Matt Baker (Tioga)                               Florindo Fabrizio (Erie)

Human Services                                   Gene DiGirolamo (Bucks)                   Angel Cruz (Phila.)

Insurance                                             Tina Pickett (Bradford)                                    Tony DeLuca (Allegheny)

Judiciary                                             Ron Marsico (Dauphin)                                   Joe Petrarca (Westmoreland)

Labor & Industry                               Mauree Gingrich (Lebanon)              Marc Gergeley (Allegheny)

Liquor Control                                   Chris Ross (Chester)                          Paul Costa (Allegheny)

Local Government                               Kate Harper (Montgomery)                  Bob Freeman (Northampton)

Professional Licensure                         Julie Harhart (Northampton)                Harry Readshaw (Allegheny)

State Government                                Daryl Metcalfe (Butler)                                    Mark Cohen (Phila.)

Transportation                                   John Taylor (Phila.)                           William Keller (Phila.)

Tourism                                              Dave Hickernell (Lancaster)              Thaddeus Kirkland (Chester)

Urban Affairs                                      Scott Petri (Bucks)                              Tom Caltagirone (Berks)

Veterans Affairs/Emerg. Prep.             Stephen Barrar (Chester/Delaware)      Chris Sainato (Lawrence)

NEW DEMOCRATIC CHAIR FOR BANKING & INSURANCE
It appears that Senator Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) will be the new Minority Chair (Democrat) of the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee. He replaces Michael Stack who was elected Lt. Governor.

 

WOLF BEGINS CABINET NOMINATIONS

Governor-elect Tom Wolf announced his first nominees for Cabinet Secretary.  If confirmed by the Senate, Eileen McNulty would be Revenue Secretary, a post she held in the Casey Administration, and Allegheny County Economic Development Director Dennis Davin would be Secretary of the Department of Community & Economic Development.  Also nominated are former Secretary of State Pedro Cordez to that post again and Denise Smyler of Phila.-based Ahmad, Zaffarese & Smyler, LLC, as Wolf’s General Counsel.

 

JANUARY FLOOD SEMINARS POSTED

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers free training to insurance producers.  These include webinars on basic training — January 14 Part One and January 15 Part Two — from 10:00 a.m. to noon.  FEMA Mapping Changes is offered January 14 from 2:00-4:00 p.m.  Details: webinars@h2opartnersusa.com. NOTE:  These webinars do not provide continuing education credits.

 

STATE FISCAL SITUATION CONTINUES TO IMPROVE

Despite dire warnings of a revenue shortfall this fiscal year by the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), revenue continues to exceed expectations.  In December, PA collected $2.7 billion, $161.7 million more than projected.  Year-to-date collections are $13.3 billion, $270.1 million over estimate.  Up were Personal Income Tax, Corporate Net Income tax, inheritance tax, and so-called ‘sin taxes’.  Real estate transfer fees are still coming in at a lower rate than expected.  On November 13, the IFO had projected a $171 million shortfall this fiscal year.

 

REGULATORY UPDATE

  • The PA Insurance Department announced the public comment close-off date of February 2, 2015, for those wishing to comment on the proposed merger of Hospital Service Corporation of Northeast PA dba Blue Cross of Northeastern PA with Highmark.  Comments should be directed to Cressinda Bybee FAX 717/787-8557, cbybee@pa.gov.
  • Re Surplus Lines, the January 10 PA Bulletin increased the threshold for an “exempt commercial purchaser of insurance” Details: www.pabulletin.com
  • Per the PA Department of Labor & Industry, the maximum PA Workers’ Compensation payable per the Statewide Average Weekly Wage is $951 per week for injuries occurring on or after January 1.
  • The PA Insurance Department received several company applications:

–          Oklahoma-based Liberty Bankers Life Insurance Company is seeking to acquire PA-domiciled Continental Life Insurance Company

–          Shamokin Township Mutual Fire Insurance Company is seeking to voluntarily surrender its PA Certificate of Authority.

–          Pax Health, Inc. has applied for a Certificate of Authority as a stock health insurance company.

 

NAVIGATOR BILL HAS ELEVEN SPONSORS

In response to a sponsorship memo sent out by Senator John Eichelberger (R-Blair) regarding re-introduction of legislation requiring Affordable Care Act navigator and “assisters” to register with the PA Insurance Department and undergo criminal background checks.  Eleven Senators have already signed on to the new bill.  All Republicans, they are Senators Mike Folmer (Lebanon), Elder Vogel (Beaver), Pat Browne (Lehigh), John Gordner (Columbia), Scott Hutchinson (Venango), Scott Wagner (York), Randy Vulakovich (Allegheny), Don White (Indiana), Joseph Scarnati (Clearfield), Richard Alloway (Franklin), and Camera Bartolatta (Beaver/Greene/Washington)  Passage of this legislation is a high priority of the PA Association of Health Underwriters which sees it as providing needed consumer protections.  Last session, SB 1268 passed the Senate but died in the House at session’s end.  A counterpart bill may be re-introduced in the PA House. 

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