LEG REG REVIEW 2016, 4th Issue – February 28, 2016

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.

 

POLICY CHIEF DEPARTS WOLF ADMINISTRATION

John Hanger has resigned his post as Secretary of Policy & Planning for the Wolf Administration.  Previously, he served Governor Rendell as his Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and was a Democratic primary opponent against Tom Wolf in 2014.  Effective February 26, his successor is former Deputy Director of Policy & Planning Sarah Galbally.  She was former Policy Director for the Wolf for Governor Campaign and holds an MPA from Villanova and a BA from University of Pennsylvania.  In a post-retirement interview, Hanger laid the blame for PA’s budget woes on House Republicans (reported by Politics PA).  “Turzai is the Speaker of the House, not some back-bencher.  He’s been opposed all along. He wanted his liquor bill, his way. He’s not been willing to compromise on liquor. No shale tax regardless of the terms that were put on the table. Where has Turzai compromised on anything?… I fundamentally reject the notion that I haven’t always engaged with members in a way to find constructive solutions, At some point, though, you cannot in fact have a successful negotiation with someone who is fanatically opposed to reaching a compromise.”

 

BUDGET TIME

This last week, the Senate and House Appropriations Committees began hearings on Governor Wolf’s proposed FY 2016-17 State Budget proposal.  FYI, here are the top five expenditures proposed by agency in the $32.7 billion request:  Human Services $12.7 billion; Education $12.4 billion; Corrections 2.6 billion; Treasury and Debt Service $1.3 billion; PA System of Higher Education $455 million.

 

A partial list of upcoming hearings follows:

 

Department                                                                Senate                                     House

Attorney General                                                      completed                               2/29

Dept. Community & Econ. Development            completed                                2/29

Dept. of State                                                                NA                                          2/29

Dept. Conservation & Natural Resources          completed                                2/29

Dept. Environmental Protection                           completed                               3/1

PennDOT                                                                    2/29                                         3/1

Universities (PSU, Pitt, Temple, Lincoln)           3/2                                           3/2

Labor & Industry                                                     3/1                                           3/3

Dept. of Banking & Securities                                NA                                          3/7

Insurance                                                                   NA                                          3/7

Education                                                                   3/8                                         3/8

Human Services (formerly DPW)                        3/7                                         3/9

Agriculture                                                                 3/1                                         3/9

Budget Secretary/Office of the Governor         completed                            3/10

Testimony from Legislators                                  NA                                          3/10

Dept. of Health                                                        completed                             3/8

Treasury                                                                    completed                             NA

Aging                                                                         2/29                                    completed

 

CANNABIS LEGALIZATION IN WORKS FOR PA HOUSE

On February 26, House Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) indicated that legalization of medical marijuana (cannabis) will be taken up by the House when it returns March 14.  Senate Bill 3 (Folmer-R-Lebanon and Leach –D- Montgomery) which passed the Senate 40-7 vote last May, creates a medical cannabis access card, available by prescription to adults and patient representatives of minors.  Amendments are anticipated which means that SB 3 will need another Senate vote before completing the legislative gauntlet.

 

POLITICS

  • PA Rep. Scott Petri (R-Bucks) withdrew from the race to succeed retiring Republican US Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.  He filed for re-election to his PA House seat.
  • Rep. Ted Harhai (D-Westmoreland) is not seeking re-election to the PA House.
  • Rep. Brian Sims (D-Phila.) withdrew from the primary contest against incumbent Democratic US Congressman Chakah Fattah and gave his endorsement to PA Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Phila.) who is also running in the primary.  Sims is running for re-election to the PA House.
  • Governor Wolf endorsed former PA Representative and now Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro who is running in the Democratic primary to succeed embattled Democratic incumbent Attorney General Kathleen Kane who did not seek re-election.
  • March 28 is the last day to register for the April 26 primary election.  It is also the last day a person can change their party registration.
  • Special elections for unexpired terms are set for March 15 in legislative districts 57 (Westmoreland County), 192 and 200 (Philadelphia) for the House and district 9 (Delaware/Chester) for the Senate.  To see who is running, go to

https://www.dos.pa.gov/VotingElections/CandidatesCommittees/RunningforOffice/Pages/Special-Elections.aspx#.VtMd30BqO2C

 

INSURERS NOT TO BE ASSESSED FOR WC SECURITY FUND

Insurance companies writing Workers’ Compensation will not be assessed any contribution to the Workers’ Compensation Security Fund in 2016 thanks to a fund balance exceeding $500 million.  The purpose of the Insurance Department-administered fund is to pay Workers’ Compensation claims for workers when a Workers’ Compensation carrier becomes insolvent.

 

REGULATORY UPDATES

  • Insurance Department Notice 2016-02 states that the autism spectrum disorders coverage maximum benefit will be increased to $38,852.00 for policies issued or renewed in 2017.
  • The PA Insurance Department issued an organizational chart in the February 27 PA Bulletin.

https://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol46/46-9/325.html

 

MARKET NOTES

  • Philly I-Day has a scholarship program for risk management and insurance students at Temple, St. Joseph’s, LaSalle, and Rowan universities to attend the Philly I-Day scheduled for April 28, 2016.  Details: Diane Cotrin 484-235-5863, phillyiday@insurancesociety.org  If you would like to sponsor these scholarships, please also speak with Diane.
  • CMS has a webinar March 9 entitled “Federally-Facilitated Marketplace Tax Readiness Season 101” which is described as ‘an overview of forms, tips, and tools agents and brokers should be familiar with as they help consumers prepare for the 2015 tax season, including information on Failure to reconcile.’  Details: https://www.REGTAP.info/

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