Last week 175 countries gathered on Earth Day to sign the Paris Agreement at the United Nations in New York. The Paris Agreement is a landmark agreement that seeks to limit global warming by each country agreeing to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases. The agreement is now one step closer to becoming international law.
BILLIONS IN LOSSES FOR APRIL 2016
Insurers have acknowledged that the impact of climate change on future insured losses is likely to be profound. The recent Houston flooding is said to be as bad as or worse than Tropical Storm Allison, which caused $7 billion in economic losses in 2001. The earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador are estimated to cause nearly $4 billion in insured losses.
This month the U.S. Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a La Niña Watch for late summer or early fall in 2016. La Niñas occur when the surface of the Pacific cools and brings on atmospheric reactions that can upset global weather patterns. During a La Niña year, the Atlantic can see a higher number of hurricanes, drier than normal conditions in the South from California to Florida, and wetter precipitation in the Pacific Northwest and the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys.
Governor Paul R. LePage signed L.D. 1646 into law last week. The bill mandates prescriber participation in the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) and sets limits for the strength and duration of opioid prescriptions. Under the law, opioid prescribers (including physicians, nurses, dentists, physical therapists, and veterinarians) are required to check the PMP prior to writing a prescription for opioids that are to be filled and administered outside of a licensed health care facility. Currently, the Governor's office states that as few as seven percent of prescribers use the PMP.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that approximately 75% of heroin addicts started with prescription opioids medication and 40% of those on opioid medications are 40 times more likely to use heroin. Governor LePage introduced this bill after meeting with the widow of an injured worker who was prescribed opioids following a workplace injury. The injured worker became addicted and then turned to heroin, which led to his untimely overdose death. The bill also mandates prescribers of opioids undergo addiction training every two years.
MAKING OUR WAY AROUND THE COUNTRY
The Senate passed a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bill that would not only reauthorize funding but would also boost airport security and address drone safety and privacy issues. The bill would establish criminal penalties for the reckless use of drones, especially aimed at operators who fly drones too close to airports without approval. The bill also sets up new security measures to protect against terrorism attacks and a tougher vetting of airport employees. The bill is now in the House for consideration.
The Illinois House passed a bill that would amend the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act (H.B. 4999). The bill would make it unlawful for an employer or prospective employer to request or require an employee or applicant to authenticate or access a personal online account in the presence of the employer. It also makes it unlawful to request or require an employee or applicant invite the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal account or have the employee or applicant join an online account established by the employer. The bill is now in the Senate.
Mississippi passed S.B. 2193, which creates a new license for workers' compensation adjusters. The new workers' compensation license will be under the authority of the Mississippi Insurance Department and will allow uniformity and reciprocity with other states. The bill awaits Governor Bryant's signature and would be effective July 1, 2016.
In honor of Earth Day, enjoy NASA's picture of Earth from space. Amazing.