On Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States. During his inaugural address, Trump repeated campaign themes to put "America first." Trump comes to office on a pro-business platform and campaigned on the strength of his business experience.
Gen. James Mattis was confirmed as Secretary of Defense and Gen. John Kelly was confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security on Inauguration Day. Rep. Mike Pompeo was confirmed as CIA Director on Monday. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was confirmed Tuesday to become the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The Senate still needs to vote on the 11 nominees who already had hearings as well as schedule the remaining 6 nominees for hearings.
In his first executive order, President Trump on Friday signed a one-page order directing government agencies to scale back as many aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as possible. The Trump administration and Congressional Republicans billed the order as the first step towards repealing the ACA. The executive order does not repeal the ACA but could loosen the rules surrounding it, especially in the areas of individual penalty enforcement and state Medicaid programs.
FIRST 100 DAYS
The president outlined a 100-day action plan that includes focusing on trade, China, immigration, and healthcare. It's a robust agenda, and we'll keep tracking ways in which it might affect our industry.
Some Like It Hot
2016 has been officially declared the hottest year on record. According to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this is the third year in a row to do so. Climate change was listed as the number two underlying risk in the recently released Global Risks Report 2017, released by the World Economic Forum.
The new Trump administration unveiled its commitment to eliminate former President Obama's Climate Action Plan and other environmental initiatives, according to the updated White House website. The climate plan proposed cuts to U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, in part by preserving forests and encouraging increased use of cleaner renewable fuels. Scientists have linked global warming and climate change to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emissions.
Making Our Way Around The Country
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified two alternative funding structures for the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) in a report released this month. The first alternative would tax insurers to help pay for terrorism claims whereas the other identified alternative would require insurers to fund terrorism set-asides to fund potential terrorism claims. The GAO notes there are trade-offs and complications with both alternatives. The reauthorization of TRIA in 2015 included a provision for GAO to review alternative funding approaches for TRIA. Currently, no terrorism event has been certified under TRIA and it is set to expire in 2020.
The Texas Division of Workers' Compensation released a memo reminding employers to prepare for the new changes regarding the adopted amended and new attorney fee rules. Effective January 30, 2017, the maximum hourly rates increased from $150 an hour to $200 an hour for attorneys and from $50 an hour to $65 an hour for legal assistants. The new rules also increased the guidelines for legal services provided to claimants and carriers.
A bill was introduced in Massachusetts that would increase the penalties for employers who fail to provide workers' compensation insurance. SD. 490 would increase the penalties from a maximum of $1,500 and up to a year in prison to fines of $1,000 to $10,000 and up to five years imprisonment.
Although our hometown Chicago Bears didn't make it to the playoffs, we can still enjoy watching the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots battle it out during Super Bowl 51. In it just for the commercials? Get your fix here.
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.