Oh, Brother--
Jan 27, 2016

JONAS

Historic snowfall hit the country this week as Winter Storm Jonas blanketed nearly half the country with 1 to 2 feet of snow. Governors up and down the Eastern Seaboard and the Ohio Valley declared states of emergency, as some twenty states encountered treacherous roadways and braced for an anticipated $1 billion in storm and expected flood damage.

WHERE ART THOU, CONGRESS?

For now, trying to get back to Washington. Jonas, the latest in a series of significant weather events over just the last few months, is likely to reignite debate in the House and Senate over the reauthorization and potential reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Set to expire in 2017, the NFIP is a federal marketplace for insurance coverage and claims administration designed to provide coverage to property owners in the United States, particularly those who live in historic floodplains.

CAN YOU SPARE A DIME?

Pundits on both sides of the Beltway call for the privatization of flood insurance, a system that has been operating under water for some time. We'll be watching these developments in the Congress as the snow recedes this spring.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION COVERAGE

A THOROUGH ANALYSIS

joint task force of state insurance commissioners (NAIC) and heads of state industrial accident boards (IAIABC) are conducting a thorough analysis of large and mega deductible insurance programs in workers' compensation.

KEY STAKEHOLDER INVOLVMENT

This afternoon the task force will review and assimilate stakeholder comments on a new reportaddressing the use, solvency, perceived biases and financial risks associated with large to mega deductibles in workers' compensation. The task force sought input from employers, underwriters, injured workers, advisory organizations, guaranty funds, professional employment organizations (PEOs) and regulators in this evaluation.

WHAT'S NEXT?

Although not law, NAIC and IAIABC reports, or the model acts they generate, regularly form the basis of legislative or regulatory activity around the country. We will revisit the final report and monitor its impact among state regulators this year.

MAKING OUR WAY AROUND THE COUNTRY

NEW MEXICO

The utilization and cost of marijuana sought by employees remains top issue in the Land of Enchantment. There are cases pending in New Mexico's appellate system and the Federal District Court. There's also an ongoing debate before the fee scheduling section of the WC Administration. This week House Bill 195 was introduced in Santa Fe. If enacted, HB 195 would immunize and eliminate an employer's financial responsibility for medical marijuana sought by its employees. The bill pends in the House Rule Committee.

NORTH CAROLINA

Governor Pat McCrory announced his leadership team for a "first-of-its-kind" employee misclassification watchdog section of the state's Industrial Commission. This section of the Tar Heel State's Work Comp board will collaborate with other state agencies to investigate allegations of employers that intentionally seek to avoid employee benefits.

MINE SAFETY

After the safest year in mining history, the coal industry experienced three fatalities in three separate mining accidents this year according to Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, Joseph A. Main. This, the highest number of coal accidents to occur in the same time period in the last decade, prompted the MSHA Secretary to issue a critical safety alert to the mining industry.

SCOTUS

The United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling this week that may make it more difficult for businesses to resolve class action disputes in their early stages. While the Court decided an unaccepted offer of settlement doesn't moot a class action, they left open whether payment of the plaintiff's claim in full does. This way to the Court's docket and slip opinion.

WELCOME

Welcome to The Way, Gallagher Bassett's weekly governmental briefing on state and federal affairs that affect our industry. Thank you for your readership, and we welcome your comments and feedback. For more information, please connect with GB on LinkedIn, follow us on Twitter, or contact the authors, Greg McKenna and Cari Miller directly.

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