"Crash Tax" Bill Hits Resistance
HB 2119, known as the Crash Tax bill, would eliminate the ability of municipalities to charge accident response fees. Some municipalities have begun sending bills to those involved in an accident for budgetary reasons. HB 2119 passed the House Local Government Committee with no opposition. It flew through the House Committee of the Whole with only 2 "no" votes and is currently in the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. The League of Municipalities argued at the hearing that the fees charged are not "accident response" fees, but more "user" fees that enable the municipalities to afford the equipment to respond to accidents. The bill is scheduled to be worked in committee next week.
No Pay, No Play
SB 136, which has passed the Senate and is House Insurance Committee, was brought by insurance companies and would remove the ability of an uninsured motorist involved in an accident to collect for non-economic damages - otherwise known as pain and suffering. The Kansas Association for Justice (trial lawyers) opposed the bill saying that those drivers who are "unintentionally uninsured" would suffer the consequences. According to the trial lawyers, many of the uninsured motorists on the road are not aware that they are uninsured. Trial lawyers were the only opponents to the bill, which should be worked next week by the committee.
Politics of the Work Comp Reform - continued
HB 2134, the bill that proposes to make significant changes to the workers compensation benefits statutes in Kansas, has passed out of Senate Commerce Committee and will be worked by the Senate Committee of the Whole next week. While the bill passed the House with little fanfare, there has been controversy in the Senate. Labor has asked the Senate to go back to the compromised bill. The Senate Commerce Committee, for the most part, restored the bill to its original compromise version. However, the Kansas Department of Labor added an amendment that would bring the appeals judge appointment process in-house. Labor strongly opposes this amendment. The Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) also asked that the provision allowing a sole proprietor to sign a waiver opting out of the workers compensation be removed. KAIA is working with the KDOL on their concerns with the amendment and to get the amended provision back into the bill.
Workers Compensation Insurance
The Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee has scheduled HB 2139for hearing on Wednesday, March 16th. This bill proposes to modernize rates (surcharges) for the assigned risk pool. With the help of Representative Proehl (Parsons) and Representative Montgomery (Olathe), KAIA amended the bill in the House Insurance Committee to allow up to four loss cost multipliers per single company license. This change would increase competition without destabilizing the market. The bill picked up another amendment that essentially allows the State Fair to look to the private market for workers compensation insurance. KAIA will continue to advocate for modernization of rating flexibility to improve market competition.
Surplus Lines Bill Moving
SB 206, the bill containing the National Conference of Insurance Legislators model bill called "SLIMPACT", passed out of the Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance Committee. Before forwarding the bill to the Senate Committee of the Whole, the committee amended the bill as per the requests of the Kansas Insurance Department (KID) with provisions that enable the KID to do what the bill requires - known as technical amendments. Chairman Ruth Teichman plans to work with the House Insurance Committee to keep the bill moving through the process this year. Time is running out and this bill is seen as "necessary" for the state to comply with the Dodd-Frank Act - federal reform that was designed to try to simplify the collection and remittance of surplus lines taxes. KAIA continues to monitor the bill.
Commissioner to Hold Hearing on Effect of Health Insurance Reform on Agents
Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger will conduct a public fact-finding hearing March 14 regarding the impact on Kansas insurance companies and agents of a medical loss ratio (MLR) provision in the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). The hearing will begin at 1 p.m. in the Shawnee A Room of the Maner Conference Center adjacent to the Capitol Plaza Hotel, 1717 S.W. Topeka Blvd, Topeka.
"Kansas insurance agents asked our department to conduct this hearing, and we think it is important to have their testimony on the record," Commissioner Praeger said. "We intend to compile the information, and, if there is justification, petition the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to adjust the MLR percentage as stated in the ACA."
Those interested in presenting oral testimony at the hearing should contact Linda Sheppard, director of the Kansas Insurance Department's Accident and Health Division, at firstname.lastname@example.org.