Legislative Update - April 1, 2013
ACTION ON FINAL DAY
As the Legislature began its final day on March 28, there were two items of interest to IIAG members that were not settled - ethics and proof of legal residency
Late Thursday night the House and Senate agreed on the final version of both bills.
Proof of Legal Residency
The compromise version of SB 160
, Danielsville) agreed to by both chambers amends the immigration law passed in 2011 in several ways. The provision of interest to IIAG is the change so the proof of citizenship will have to be provided only once for agents licenses (and other state licenses), not for every renewal. Legal residents who are not citizens or permanent legal residents must continue to demonstrate legal residency at every renewal.
A similar bill, HB 125
, by Rep. Hightower
(Carrollton) passed the House, but the surviving bill was the Senate bill.
The House and Senate also agreed on legislation to restrict lobbyists “gifts” to legislators. For the most part these so called gifts are meals and other kinds of entertainment.
In its final form HB 142
(Rep. David Ralston
, Blue Ridge) limits gifts to $75 per event. Sport events, golf outings, and similar activities are forbidden altogether. The bill allows associations and corporations to pay for legislators to attend conventions and the like, provided the convention is related to their duties as legislators.
The bill also eliminates the registration fee lobbyists have been required to pay in the past. This was part of a change in the law to require unpaid lobbyists to register as well as paid lobbyists.
Capitol Report 10 - March 25
THREE DAYS LEFT, TWO ITEMS HANGING
The Legislature will meet today, tomorrow, and Thursday to wrap up the 2013 legislative session. It ain’t over til it’s over, but it looks like nothing we don’t want to happen will happen and everything that we do want to happen will happen. Most items of interest to IIAG members are settled for the year, but we are waiting final action on two issues: ethics and proof of legal residency.
Proof of Legal Residency
As we reported on Friday, the House and Senate differ over legislation adjusting the immigration law passed two years ago.
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Non Civil Committee voted out HB 125 (Rep. Hightower, Carrollton). This bill amends the immigration law passed in 2011 in several ways. The provision of interest to IIAG is the change so the proof of citizenship will have to be provided only once for agents licenses (and other state licenses), not for every renewal. Legal residents who are not citizens or permanent legal residents must continue to demonstrate legal residency at every renewal.
Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Non Civil Committee voted out SB 160 (Sen. Ginn, Danielsville). This bill also amends the immigration law, and also makes the proof of legal residency a one-time requirement. However, there are some differences in the two bills. The Senate and House will each pass its own version. The differences will be settled in a conference committee. Stay tuned. (The disagreements do not relate to changing the proof of legal residency requirement.)
In all likelihood the House will pass its version of SB 160 today and the matter will be settled in conference.
IIAG MEMBERS SHOULD CONTACT THEIR LEGISLATORS NOW AND TELL THEM THIS IS IMPORTANT. WHATEVER ELSE THEY DO REGARDING IMMIGRATION, THEY MUST RELIEVE AGENTS AND OTHER LICENSEES OF THIS BURDEN OF PROVING CITIZENSHIP OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
The House and Senate also disagree on legislation to restrict lobbyists “gifts” to legislators. For the most part these so called gifts are meals and other kinds of entertainment.
HB 142 (Rep. David Ralston, Blue Ridge) is the bill in question. As passed the House, the bill would ban gifts totally to individual legislators, but would have exceptions for groups of legislators – the full House and Senate, local delegations, caucuses. The Senate revised the House bill to eliminate the exceptions for groups, but permit gifts of $100 or less. Both bills would still allow associations and corporations to pay for legislators to attend conventions and the like, provided the convention is related to their duties as legislators.
Like the proof of legal residency bill, this one will go down to the wire in a conference committee.
Here is a rundown on other legislation.
HB 336 (Rep. Jay Powell, Camilla) is the bill to address the problem of “manufactured” bad faith claims. See Capitol Report Number 1 for a discussion of the issue.
The Senate passed this bill, so this one is put to bed. The bill applies only to motor vehicle accident claims and establishes rules for pre-suit settlement demands. Included in the rules is a 30-day minimum time limit.
Auto Insurance Compliance
SB 118 (Sen. Judson Hill, Marietta) would replace the GEICS system with one run by a private vendor. The vendor would receive the information on auto insurance now sent by companies to the Department of Revenue. The vendor would also be involved in enforcement, sending letters to motor vehicle owners whose insurance has lapsed. The bill was assigned to the Insurance and Labor Committee. A hearing was held but no vote was taken. IIAG opposes the bill, believing that the current system works well and that a change would be costly and provide no benefits.
The bill will receive no action in this session, but Senator Hill has introduced SR 510 to create a study committee to examine the issue. The resolution has been favorably reported by the Senate Rules Committee. The resolution will probably pass this week and the matter will be studied during the interim.
Med Mal Claims
SB 141 (Sen. Brandon Beach, Alpharetta) would create a system similar to the workers’ comp system to handle professional liability claims against physicians, hospitals and other medical providers. This would not be a no fault system like workers’ comp. The standard for liability would be based on a concept known as “avoidable” injury or death due to medical treatment.
The Health and Human Services Committee held two long public hearings on this bill but no vote was taken. The bill will be studied over the interim by a subcommittee of the Health and Human Services Committee.
Licensing of Navigators
HB 198 (Rep. Richard Smith, Columbus), which provides for the licensing of navigators, passed both houses. Navigators are entities created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to provide education and related services for consumers about exchanges. Although the state will not create its own exchange, and in Georgia the federal government will operate the exchange, navigators can be licensed by the state.
HB 154 (Rep. Mark Hamilton, Cumming) is the “Board bill,” the annual fine tuning of the workers’ compensation law. The bill passed both Houses without a single dissenting vote.
The bill raises the maximum weekly benefit by $25; cap medical expenses at 400 weeks except for catastrophic injuries; and change the rules regarding trial return to work.
Proof of Insurance
HB 254 (Rep. Bruce Williamson, Monroe) has passed both houses. The bill will permit insurers and agents, upon the request of the insured, to send auto insurance ID cards to customer’s smart phones. In most cases the information in the GEICS system would continue to be actual proof of insurance, but in those cases where the ID card now serves as proof (for example, fleet policies), the electronic version would replace the card as proof of insurance. In its final form, the bill provides that law providing showing a mobile device to a law enforcement official would not constitute permission to view anything on the device other than the insurance information.
HB 458 (Rep. Alex Atwood, Brunswick) would amend the insurance provisions of the state’s condominium law. Currently, the maximum amount of the condo association’s deductible that can be applied to an individual unit is $2500. The bill would raise the maximum to $5000. HB 458 has passed the House and is on the Senate calendar for action today.
Come to Washington, D.C. and Protect Your Industry
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
Attend a one-of-a-kind legislative event for the independent agency system and educate members of Congress on issues important to you and your clients. The 2013 Big “I” Legislative Conference will be held April 17-19 at the Grand Hyatt Washington in Washington, D.C. Registration includes an in-depth issues briefing, legislative breakfast with high-profile Congressional speakers, a general session and networking opportunities.
Attendees also have a chance to support the future of the industry by attending the YAC Gives Back & InVEST Silent Auction: A Benefit for InVEST Scholarships, hosted by the
national Young Agents Committee. Don’t miss out; register today and protect your industry!
Online Registration Cutoff Date: April 3, 2013.
Registrations after the cutoff date must be completed onsite.