President Trump signed into law Senate Resolution 34, a measure that repeals the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) broadband privacy rules. The GOP-backed resolution will now permit Internet service providers to negotiate information such as customer browsing habits, app usage history, location data, and Social Security numbers with an $80 billion online marketing and advertising industry.
PULL THE INFIELD IN
Even as the measure passed Congress last week, national polling suggested that the bill did not have widespread appeal. Sen. Chuck Schumer called on President Donald Trump last Sunday to veto the bill that will allow internet service providers to sell customers' personal data. Pundits caution against the far-reaching effects of lessening privacy online and industry information officers brace for a new wave of cyber privacy concerns, even in some instances where employees utilize virtual private networks (VPNs).
IN THE ON DECK CIRCLE
Political and high-tech commentators alike believe that the Trump administration's next move will be to deregulate broadband internet service companies by repealing the Obama administration's net neutralityrules. The net neutrality rules, which were approved by the FCC in 2015, aimed to preserve the open internet and ensure that it could not be divided into pay-to-play fast lanes for web and media companies at an elevated, or cost prohibitive price to the general public. We've got our eyes on the high tech field as these developments unfold.
Get Your Hot Dogs, Cold Beer Here
We are keeping score in retail and restaurant related legislation this session. States around the country have advanced clarifying legislation to affirm that franchisors are not the employer of a franchisee or the franchisee's employees. This kind of legislation, generally supported by the retail and restaurant industry, stems from several rulings of the National Labor Relations Board involving the concept of "joint employment." Effective this August, legislation in states from North Dakota to Arizona and from Kentuckyand Wyoming will provide additional protections to franchising companies. On the other hand, a similar measure was vetoed in Virginia earlier last month.
PREGAME LINE-UP CARDS
At the same time, an increasing number state and municipal lawmaking bodies are seeking to ensure that ensure fair and predictive scheduling for restaurant employees. Bills to create a "Retail Bill of Rights" in North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Ohio are on the move. The measures would require reasonably advanced notice about changes to an employee's schedule and would require employers to offer available shifts to current employees at the relevant location before hiring more workers. At the municipal level, Seattle'sscheduling ordinance goes into effect on July 1st. And, just last month the New York City Council's Committee on Civil Service and Labor considered legislation that would ban "clopening," when an employee closes an establishment and then opens it at his or her very next shift.
Making Our Way Around The Country
CALLED OUT AT THE PLATE
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed a bill this week that enables employers to terminate workers' compensation benefits to injured employees fired for misconduct after returning to the job. New Mexico Senate Bill 155 also provides that workers are not entitled to certain benefits if they decline a reasonable offer to get back to work after recovering from an injury. Montana Senate Bill 184 would authorize carriers to deny liability for already accepted claims if those claims were accepted because of fraud or mutual mistake of a material fact. The measure would also allow carriers to close down accepted claims upon receiving clear and convincing evidence that the insurer was not liable for the compensation benefits.
This week, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed into law measures that will limit local increases to the statewide minimum wage and makes changes to the state's workers' compensation system to standardize recovery of certain classes of work related trauma, such as shoulder injuries. In Florida, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted this week to approve legislation that would convert Florida into a "loss cost" state, where individual insurers would propose their own rates to the Office of Insurance Regulation. The bill would also change the way attorney’s fees are awarded in claims litigation. Attorneys could receive as much as $250 per billable hour. A $1,500 limit on fees involving medical-only claims would be cut from the line-up.
President Trump signed legislation that allows states to expand the scope of drug testing for applicants seeking unemployment benefits. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), nullifies a Labor Department rule that went into effect in September limiting drug tests to applicants who had a job that does regular drug screenings.
Are you heading to Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS) Annual Conference and Exhibition in Philadelphia this month? If so, we'd love to see you in the Exhibit Hall. Please make your way to GB Booth #2527 and to the RIMS Advocacy Center at Booth #1657, where we will be pitching the RIMS federal agenda and batting around the critical legislative and regulatory issues affecting our industry.
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.