Dems: Commerce Committee Report – Week 10, 2019

March 20, 2019
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FLOOR ACTION:

SF 412 – Insurance assignment of rights to contractors

SF 506 – Notification requirements for credit union mergers

SF 507 – Workers’ compensation idiopathic falls

SF 556 – Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association membership

SF 558 – Domestic surplus lines insurance

SF 559 – Portable electronic insurance notifications

SF 561 – Unemployment benefits disqualification for misconduct

SF 583 – Electric utility rates for private generation (“Sunshine Tax”)

HF 487– Installation of wireless communications infrastructure

FLOOR ACTION:

SF 412 – Insurance assignment of rights to contractors

SF 412 relates to post-loss assignment of rights to residential contractors for repair or services performed on residential real estate covered by property and casualty insurance. The Attorney General strongly opposed the original proposals but worked with legislators and stakeholders to craft legislation that included the recommended consumer protections.

The legislation allows the insured to cancel the contract at the later date of either the execution date or the date on which the insured receives the assignment; adds one additional notice provision that must be included in the contract/assignment (notice of the right to cancel and the process to do so); and makes a violation an unlawful practice under 714.16 – Consumer Frauds. The contract between the insured and the contractors is void if a contractor violates any requirement related to the post-loss assignment of rights or benefits by the insured to the contractor.

The post-loss assignment must include an itemized description of, and the materials, labor and fees for, the work to be performed, including a total itemized amount. It also requires that the post-loss assignment include a statement and a notice, in 14-point type, that the contractor has not represented that the claimed loss will be fully covered by insurance. After the post-loss assignment is executed, a copy must be provided to the insurer of the real estate within five business days. The insured has the right to cancel the assignment for any reason within those five business days. If the insured cancels, the contractor must return any payments made by the insured, the landowner or the possessor of the real estate.

Any written contract, estimate or work order prepared by the contractor must include a notice advising the insured that the insured is responsible for payment to the contractor for any goods or services provided by the contractor, even if the insured does not receive payment from the insurance policy. The notice also advises the insured that if the contractor advertises or promises to rebate the insured’s deductible, or represents or negotiates, or offers to represent or negotiate with the insured’s property and casualty insurer on behalf of the insured, the insured is not responsible for payment to the contractor under the contract, estimate or work order. A copy of the document, signed by the insured, must be sent to the insured’s insurance company prior to the contractor being paid from the proceeds of the insurance.
[3/18: 48-0: (Absent: Dawson; Vacant: Danielson)]

 

SF 506 – Notification requirements for credit union mergers

SF 506 is a recommendation by the Credit Union Division. Currently, a merging credit union must provide notice of balloting for voting members at least 20 days prior to the scheduled vote. It requires that at least 15 days before that notice is sent to members, a merging credit must submit to the Superintendent of Credit Unions all materials that will be included in the notice. The Superintendent must review and approve those materials at least 10 days before the notice is sent to the members, and may direct other materials to be included in the notice.
[3/19: 49-0 (Vacant: Danielson)]

 

SF 507 – Workers’ compensation idiopathic falls

SF 507 changes the definition of personal injuries arising out of and in the course of employment for purposes of workers’ compensation. As amended, it creates a blanket rule that personal injuries due to idiopathic or unexplained falls from a level surface onto the same level surface would not be compensable under workers’ compensation, rather than looking at it on a case-by-case basis requiring the claimant to show proof that the condition of a floor, just like any other workplace condition, poses an increased risk of injury and should be compensated.
[3/19: 32-17, party line (Vacant: Danielson)]

 

SF 556 – Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association membership

SF 556 updates Iowa Code relating to the membership of the Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association (LHIGA) and assessments to member insurers for insurance written by impaired or insolvent member insurers. It more closely conforms Chapter 508C to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) model act, including provisions recently adopted by NAIC. Regardless of the state in which an insurance company is located, there are policyholders across the country. The bill provides that assessments to member insurers of the LHIGA for long-term care insurance written by an impaired or insolvent insurer must be allocated by the methodology included in the association’s plan of operation and must provide for 50 percent of the assessment to  accident and health member insurers and 50 percent to life and annuity member insurers. Current law does not provide for life and annuity members to be included in the assessment for long-term care insurance.  The 50/50 offers parity in those long-term care policies that may be categorized as a type of “life insurance” and/or “health insurance.” The bill takes effect upon enactment.
[3/20: 49-0 (Vacant: Danielson)]

 

SF 558 – Domestic surplus lines insurance

SF 558 allows insurers of surplus lines to be based in Iowa. It establishes requirements and defines “domestic surplus lines insurer” as an insurer that is domiciled in this state and authorized by the Insurance Commissioner to do business as such. Currently, a company with its main office in Iowa can write surplus lines insurance in every state except Iowa. The bill also specifies requirements that a non-admitted insurer domiciled in Iowa must meet to be considered a domestic surplus lines insurer. Surplus lines insurance (a.k.a. excess lines insurance) helps provide coverage of an unconventional nature (e.g., Ninja Gyms, underground storage tanks, long-haul trucking of high-value, hazardous or perishable cargo) when what needs to be insured makes it difficult to get insurance through regular lines because the insurance companies are unable or unwilling to accept the risk. The proposal, based on recommendations by the Iowa Insurance Institute working with the Iowa Insurance Division and other stakeholders, should enhance Iowa’s reputation as an insurance industry leader and could bring more jobs to the state. Similar legislation has been enacted in 18 other states.
[3/19: 49-0 (Vacant: Danielson)]

 

SF 559 – Portable electronic insurance notifications

SF 559 allows insurance carriers to electronically send notifications and documents to customers who purchased portable electronics insurance policies in a retail transaction. Prior to or at the point of sale, the consumer must provide an e-mail address and must be advised in a conspicuous disclosure that by providing the e-mail address, the consumer is giving affirmative consent for insurance notices and correspondence to be delivered by electronic means. The consumer must also be provided a conspicuous disclosure advising the consumer of the consumer’s right to have the notice or document in paper form, and of the right to cancel the consumer’s consent.
[3/20: 49-0 (Vacant: Danielson)]

 

SF 561 – Unemployment benefits disqualification for misconduct

SF 561 relates to the disqualification from eligibility for unemployment benefits due to discharge for misconduct. Currently, Iowa Code does not define “misconduct.” Instead, it is defined in  administrative rules and case law. The bill defines misconduct in the Code using similar (but not exact) language as is in administrative rules. In addition, the bill enumerates a list (“including to but not limited to” list) of what is considered “misconduct.”
[3/20: 32-17, party line (Vacant: Danielson)]

 

SF 583 – Electric utility rates for private generation (“Sunshine Tax”)

SF 583 allows investor-owned utilities to set minimum infrastructure charges for private net-metered customer generation. Rate-regulated utilities’ tariff rates for customer-owned generation. The bill:

  • States the Legislature’s desire to ensure that all customers are paying their fair share of the costs of electric utility infrastructure, thereby eliminating “cross-subsidization.”
  • Expresses the Legislature’s intent to provide rate options to customers with their own generation.
  • Defines customer owned generation as “private generation” and it defines “avoided cost” in terms of the rate paid to private generators in compliance with PURPA (Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act).
  • Allows rate-regulated electric utilities to file tariffs applicable to private generation facilities that are installed on or after the date such tariffs are approved.
  • Requires that all such tariffs must recover the full cost of providing service to private generation customers.
  • Requires that all such tariffs require a private generation customer to choose from four different rate structures.
  • “Grandfathers in” existing private generation facilities so that the new tariffs do not alter the existing power purchase agreements and other financing.
  • One rate structure creates a minimum infrastructure charge but also allows full retail credit rate on the bill as well as annual cash out with an energy credit carry forward to future billing periods.
  • One rate structure is a multi-part rate that includes at a minimum, a fixed basic service charge, an energy charge to recover variable costs, and a monthly demand charge that ensures the private generation customers pays the full cost of infrastructure. The rate allows an annual excess credit cash out at the utility’s avoided cost.
  • One rate structure is a “buy all and sell all” rate under which the generation is separately metered and the customer buys all power at retail and sells all power at avoided cost.
  • The fourth rate structure allows future structures to be filed and approved at the board without having to amend the statute in order to file future, as yet undefined tariffs.

The bill exempts certain large renewable energy producers from the bill’s requirements regarding the utility infrastructure charges: (1) a cogeneration facility, including without limitation combined heat and power facilities;  (2) a facility that produces renewable fuel registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a manufacturer; (3) a facility that uses a de minimus amount of biomass in its operations (less than 10 percent of all fuel used in the generation processes); and (4) a private generation facility with a nameplate generating capacity greater than one megawatt.
[3/18: 28-19 (No: Democrats, Kapucian, Nunn; Absent: Dawson, Sinclair; Vacant: Danielson)]

 

HF 487– Installation of wireless communications infrastructure

HF 487 (SF 560), the Iowa Cell Siting Act, provides uniform rules and limitations and requires authorities to approve an application for a tower in compliance with the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network in counties with populations of less than 15,000 people. An authority or governing body authorized to make decisions relative to a cell siting cannot reject an application for the installation of a tower or transmission equipment in the unincorporated area of a county with a population of less than 15,000 (except on property zoned as single-family residential or property of historic significance). It requires written confirmation from the Statewide Interoperable Communications System Board that the tower or equipment is intended to be installed and used as part of the state plan approved under the federal law for the deployment of the public safety broadband and radio access networks. The State of Iowa opted in to “FirstNet,” and it is in the first year of a five-year build-out that will cover 99.5 percent of the population, including 99.2 percent of our rural areas. FirstNet’s public safety mission is to build and deploy a high-speed nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to first responders to give them the technology to better communicate and collaborate across local, state, tribal and national jurisdictions. The bill, which is designed to address a controversial plan to construct a cell phone tower in Allamakee County, takes effect upon enactment and sunsets in two years.
[3/14: 38-10 (No: Bisignano, Bolkcom, Celsi, Dotzler, Hogg, Jochum, Quirmbach, J. Smith, R. Taylor, Wahls; Absent: Miller-Meeks; Vacant: Danielson)]

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