President Trump introduced and signed an executive order unwinding many of President Obama's climate policies and celebrated the move as a way to promote energy independence and create jobs. The order directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the Clean Power Plan, rescinds the moratorium on coal mining on U.S. federal lands and urges federal agencies to identify all regulations, rules, and policies that serve as obstacles to American energy.
UP IN THE AIR
The Clean Power Plan, which would have limited carbon emissions from power plants and greatly reduced coal's share of U.S. power generation, was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court and had not gone into full effect. Scientists have linked global warming and climate change to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emissions. Insurers have acknowledged that the impact of climate change on future insured losses is likely to be profound.
Last week California's clean-air agency voted to push ahead with stricter emissions standards for cars and trucks even though the Trump Administration vowed to loosen the regulations. California is the country's biggest auto market and was granted a waiver under the Clean Air Act to write its own standards. Twelve other states, including New York and Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia follow California's standards.
THE PERFECT STORM
The executive order may not come at a good time for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) when research attributes the increasing frequency of extreme rainfall events to climate change. Last week, the Trump Administration's 2018 budget called for cutting the NFIP's Hazard Flood Mapping program. In recent years, FEMA has begun to update and modernize maps for every county and town in the country. However, the majority of maps still remain outdated. The NFIP is up for renewal this September and we're keeping a close eye on this one.
Today, Sir Tim Barrow, the UK's permanent representative to the EU, officially notified the European Union of the UK's intention to leave. This now triggers Article 50, the statute governing the procedure for the withdrawal of an EU member. The UK will remain part of the EU for at least two years to allow for negotiations over Britain's exit. This is the first time a member state has signaled its intention to leave the EU.
MOVING ACROSS THE CHANNEL
Financial firms and insurance companies are determining their Brexit plans with a number of companies announcing plans to open operations in the continental Europe. Once the UK exits the EU, financial services companies wouldn't be allowed passport rights, the ability of UK-based firms to sell their services into the other 27 member states of the EU without having a branch there. We'll keep watching how the negotiations play out.
Making Our Way Around The Country
A workers' compensation reform bill, House File 518 (previously House Study Bill 169), passed the state legislature on Monday. The reform bill changes shoulder injuries from a full-body injury to a scheduled injury, minimizes late fees for employers who fail to pay benefits on time, limits how much attorneys can earn in legal fees, as well as reduces benefits for injuries tied to pre-existing conditions. The final version of the bill deleted a provision that would have cut off benefits to workers at age 67 and raised the standard for some injuries. The bill now heads to Gov. Terry Branstad's desk. He is expected to sign the bill, which would take effect July 1.
The Illinois House introduced two workers' compensation bills. The first, H.B. 2892, would limit physician dispensing. Providers would only be reimbursed if there is no licensed pharmacy within five miles of the physician's office. The second bill, H.B. 3764, would reduce the maximum weekly compensation rate in death cases, permanent total disability, and temporary total disability as well as other provisions. Both bills are still in the House Workers' Compensation Subcommittee.
For those who traveled to DC for spring break, you were able to see the cherry blossoms in full peak. We decided to stay home and celebrate National Puppy Day with a new addition to the family.
About The Way
The Way is Gallagher Bassett's weekly governmental briefing on state and federal affairs that affect our industry. We thank you for starting your Wednesday morning with us. Please be sure to follow #GBTheWay for additional news and updates as we make our way throughout the country on the issues affecting our industry. For more information, please connect with GB on LinkedIn, follow us on Twitter, or contact the authors, Greg McKenna or Cari Miller, directly.