The Way

GB's Weekly Governmental Briefing

Through our Governmental Affairs practice, GB is helping to shape the laws and regulations that will define the times ahead. Acting on behalf of the best interests of our clients and our industry.
Each week, we bring it all into focus.

Across the Pond

Jun. 21, 2016
LEAD STORY

This Thursday, in a move being called Brexit (merging Britain and exit), the United Kingdom will vote either stay or leave the European Union (EU).  Britain’s insurance industry warns of business shifts under a Brexit, which includes moving companies and business to other EU countries and increased costs to operate in the UK.

WHAT’S THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EU?

The EU is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries.  It was formed after World War II to foster trade and economic cooperation.  The EU has its own currency (the euro) that is used by 19 member countries.  Most significantly, it has its own parliament and sets rules in a wide range of areas, including on the environment, transport and consumer rights.  However, supporters of Brexit cite the gaining control the EU has over the UK, such as high immigration, the ability to run its own affairs, and too many rules on business.

GLOBAL HUB FOR INSURANCE INDUSTRY

According to Lloyd’s of London, the UK is the global hub for specialist insurance and reinsurance.  If the UK exited the EU, Lloyd’s and similar companies wouldn’t allow passporting rights, the ability of UK-based firms to sell their services into the other 27 member states of the EU without having a branch there, and wouldn’t benefit from the EU’s bilateral agreements negotiated with third-party countries.  The brokerage community warns that Brexit would damage UK’s leadership position in insurance.

THE VOTE

The vote is scheduled for June 23.  There is no minimum voter turnout and a straight majority determines the result.  Everyone should be watching for this.

OSHA

SEVERE VIOLATOR PILOT PROGRAM

OSHA announced a first-of-its-kind pilot whistleblower-severe violator enforcement program (W-SVEP) in the Kansas City region (Region 7).  W-SVEP will target employers that continually and willfully disregard the rights of whistleblowers.  Back in February, OSHA widened its scope of review of whistleblower complaints and changed how it will commence investigations.  Region 7 encompasses employers in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri.

GREAT PUBLIC SCRUTINY

However, critics to the pilot program contend the initiative may violate a company’s due process rights and unfairly hurt its business reputation since an employer can be placed on the W-SVEP list even before an allegation is proven.  Once an employer is on the list, OSHA intends to inform the public through press releases and providing court filings and the agency’s findings to the Dept. of Labor, federal agencies with jurisdiction and labor union within the employer’s facility.  OSHA hopes the W-SVEP pilot will be the catalyst to change company behavior and restore employee confidence.

Making Our Way Around the Country

NEW YORK

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the final report and recommendations from the Heroin and Opioid Task Force that was charged with developing a comprehensive plan to combat the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic.  Some of the key recommendations include mandating prescriber education on pain management and addiction, reducing the number of days for first time opioid prescriptions from 30 to seven, and increasing treatment beds and opioid treatment program slots.  A new multi-faceted legislative agreement to combat heroin and prescription opioid abuse in NY was subsequently announced by the Governor and leaders of the legislature taking into account the Task Force’s final report and recommendations. 

CALIFORNIA

The California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) announced that the 2017 minimum and maximum temporary total disability (TTD) rates will increase on January 1, 2017. The minimum TTD rate will increase from $169.26 to $175.88 and the maximum TTD rate will increase from $1,128.43 to $1,172.57 per week.  This results in an approximate 3.9% increase.

RHODE ISLAND

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s Workers’ Compensation Division is proposing to reduce the assessment rate to 6.25% from 6.5%.  The Department also released an informational letter detailing the Revised Workers’ Compensation Medical Fee Schedule effective for all services provided on or after July 1, 2016.

STRAWBERRY MOON

Welcome summer!  If you didn’t get a chance to enjoy the strawberry moon, check out some of these beautiful photos.

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