Legislative Session Approaches Mid-way Point
Last week in Santa Fe, we saw a definite uptick in activity at the Roundhouse, as committees began meeting regularly to discuss the legislation assigned to them. Since very few bills have made their way through the committee process in their respective chambers, early session ‘floor’ agendas tend toward recognition of people and groups favored by individual legislators. It is also a time to celebrate New Mexico culture, with various talents performing in the House or Senate chambers or under the Capitol Rotunda.
As we enter the third week of the 2018 legislative ‘short’ session, legislators face a deadline tomorrow for the introduction of bills. Thus far, we are tracking 24 insurance and business related bills, 10 in the House and 14 in the Senate.
So, you might ask, what is happening with these bills of interest? Not much. Although the legislative activity overall is greatly increased, the activity on insurance bills reminds us of the new Geico commercial featuring the sloth playing charades. Not one tracked bill has yet passed through a single committee, and most are struggling to be accepted as ‘germane’ to this fiscal–centric session.
Perhaps of most interest to the industry are four bills introduced last week by Senator Cisneros. Two of them (SB68 & SB128) are identical bills that clean up outdated tax code, and two (SB162 & SB175) suggest changes in gross receipts taxation rules. All four contain similar language that purport to change the way that premium tax is collected. Although the bill descriptions all suggest that they narrow the premium tax exemptions for our industry, we are puzzled as to how exactly they would do that. As such, we are withholding judgement until we see the fiscal impact reports from the OSI on these bills. We are hoping that it turns out to be a ‘nothing burger’.
Also of interest in the ‘Tax & Regulatory’ section of our tracking sheet are two repeat bills from the 2017 session. The first is Senator Leavell’s SB187, the Own Risk & Solvency Act. This is a model act that the NAIC wants all states to adopt, and it may be required for the OSI to keep its regulatory accreditation. The second is HB223, which would transfer the collection of premium taxes from the OSI to the Taxation & Revenue Department. Although the OSI has performed this function since its inception as the Department of Insurance, the agency seems fine with the suggested change.That’s about it for this week. As the House of Representatives prepares to send its budget bill over to the Senate later this week, we hope to see movement in some of our tracked legislation. If not, then we hope you tune in next week for another episode of ‘As the Sloth Turns’.
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