Legislative Update – Week of April 1 – 5

What a great week it has been at the Legislature!  We had our new Government Affairs Committee at the Capitol on Tuesday, and it was a very productive day.  We met with the Chairman of Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, the Chairman of House Insurance Committee, and other key legislators.  Our members personally advocated for matters of concern to insurance agents. Thank you Greg Davis, Jessica Govic, Joe Hunt, Brooks McDonald, and Bob McIntire for your attendance and hard work on the Committee.  

Here are some updates from this week on key pieces of legislation:

SB 1299/HB 272 – Referral Fees:   This legislation, by Sen. Pody (R-Lebanon) and Rep. Gant (R-Rossville), was brought to the sponsors by the Insurors of Tennessee.  This bill clarifies the Code relative to payment of referral fees and will help association health plans operate in Tennessee.  The bill passed the House 95-0 on March 25th, and passed the Senate 29-1 on April 4th.  The bill is now headed to the Speakers and Governor Lee for his signature.  We want to pass along a huge thank you to the sponsors for their hard work on this bill.  

SB 484/HB 530 – Public Bidding:  This bill by Sen. Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) and Rep. T. Hill (R-Blountville), would require governmental entities to utilize public bidding when purchasing insurance on behalf of municipalities, counties or school boards. It also requires additional burdensome disclosures in the bidding process.  Our members personally expressed concerns with this bill to the sponsor this week.  The bill was rolled in the Senate this week and taken off notice in the House, effectively ending the bill for the year.  

SB 466/ HB 539 - IRS Test for Work Comp:  This bill by Sen. Roberts (R-Springfield) and Rep. Howell (R-Georgetown), which we’ve mentioned in previous updates, would change the statutory test for determining who is an employee or independent contractor.  Due to our lobbying efforts alongside other stakeholders, work comp has been removed from the bill as the bill progresses through the legislature.  The bill has passed in the House and is scheduled to be heard in a Senate Committee next week.  

SB 942/HB 1044 - MEWAs:  This bill by Sen. Lundberg (R-Bristol) and Rep. Travis (R-Dayton) authorizes a pool of member employers qualifying as self-insurers to use case characteristics, claim experience, health status or duration of coverage since issue, in determining the initial or adjusted premium rates for such employers.  The bill will be on the House floor next week, and likely on the Senate floor the following week.  

SB 645/HB 874 – More AHP Legislation:  This bill by Sen. Roberts and Rep. Curcio (R-Dickson) helps match Tennessee code with Federal code in an effort to reduce regulation concerning associations banding together to create health insurance plans. It deletes the requirement that bona fide associations must have been in existence for at least five years and maintained in good faith for purposes other than obtaining insurance, and adds that associations or business coalitions who are entering into an agreement to pool their liabilities must have at least one substantial business purpose unrelated to offering and providing insurance coverage. However, it allows such coverage to serve as their primary purpose.  The bill is progressing in the House, but was recently stalled in the Senate due to the recent court decision on the federal rules.