Since 1927 ~ Protecting Consumers in Real Estate Transactions

2017 Legislative Session Wrap-up
March 20, 2014

How did the insurance industry fare in the 2017 session? We did remarkably well, all things considered. In the final 24 hours of the session, we were rewarded with the passage of 5 out of 6 of the priority bills that we were supporting.

In the Life & Health realm, HB336 is on its way to the Governor. This bill allows the use of ‘stop loss’ insurance to help fund group self-insurance health policies, which allows another stabilizing option to this rather volatile line of insurance. Health insurance lobbyists also did a fantastic job of stopping a lot of adverse legislation, including the single payer health proposals (HB101 and SB172) and many of the coverage ‘mandate’ bills that we see every year.

Perhaps our biggest win of the session occurred in the P&C line, as SB155, the workers compensation fix for the adverse Hawkins & Cordova court decisions passed the legislature. Despite intense opposition from the trial lawyers, Sen. Candelaria and a very dedicated group of industry lobbyists; along with help from WCA staff and the Workers Compensation Advisory Council, ultimately carried the day.

The chaotic end of the session scramble also ended well for the regulatory bills we were supporting. The first of the Insurance Code updates to make it through was SB79, the bill that allows carriers and agents more flexibility under our anti-rebate statute. Industry entities are now allowed to spend up to $100 a year on clients and prospects for marketing. If the Governor signs the bill, it will no longer be illegal to take a client out to lunch! Also passing were the Public Adjusters bill (SB88) and the OSI’s annual clean-up bill (SB367), which brings a number of our statutes into compliance with NAIC standards.

Our only major regret is that we lost SB105 in a last day tussle over some privacy wording. The ORSA bill was an NAIC model act that is important to receive OSI accreditation. But on the bright side, SB376 also died at adjournment. This bill would have moved insurance premium tax collection from the OSI to the Taxation & Revenue Department. With their new NAIC based computer system coming online this summer, we believe that many of the problems that have plagued collection efforts in the past will be eliminated.

Finally, for our Title Insurance constituents, the session ended with the ‘duplicates’ bill (SB212), failing to pass. Much like the ORSA bill, a late session disagreement over an amendment in the House Judiciary Committee sealed its fate. Ultimately, industry lobbyists decided that the current procedures for filing duplicates were actually better than those proposed in the amended bill, and it was tabled.

On the bright side, title insurance carriers will no longer have to pay into the Fraud Assessment Pool (language contained in SB367); and neither of the proposals to create a so-called ‘high risk insurance pool’ made it through the process.

After all was said and done, 311 bills passed out of the 1473 bills introduced this session. Out of the 80 insurance related measures we were tracking this year, 17 are on their way to the Governor. After a very slow start, this is a fairly high percentage of passed bills when compared to other long sessions. We don’t believe any of them will have a major negative impact on the industry, although insurance entities may now be subject to some new data protection measures. If the Governor signs HB15, the Data Breach Notification Act, New Mexico will join 48 states with similar laws. We will keep everyone appraised of the requirements if it becomes law.

That’s it until next year. Our many thanks to all who helped to achieve this year’s outstanding results; and especially Senator Carroll Leavell, who for over 20 years has tirelessly supported industry legislation. Unfortunately, he’ll be back in Santa Fe soon for a Special Session to be called when the Governor vetoes the budget. We’re hoping that NMLTA lobbyists won’t have a need to be there, but we’ve left word to wake us from our end of session margarita-fueled stupor just in case!

Last Week Legislative Predictions

So far this year, our legislators have played relatively nice together.  Yes, we’ve had the usual disagreements on the wedge issues de jour (minimum wage, gun control, etc.) but so far our lawmakers have avoided any major dust-ups between the chambers.  Usually by this time of the session party leaders are heard feuding about the other chamber not hearing their bills that have ‘crossed over’.  This usually leads to some serious game playing as they hold each other’s priority bills hostage to gain leverage.  

But this year the levels of legislative coercion seem fairly mild compared to previous ‘long’ sessions.  Perhaps it’s because both houses are controlled by the D’s, but our guess is that lawmakers from both parties are distracted by the ominous ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over everyone’s heads:  the huge budget shortfall.

As in most states, our lawmakers are required to balance the budget.  In addition to an $80 million shortfall in the current fiscal year, next year will be even worse…perhaps as much as $300 million.  It’s so bad that our favorite state senator, Carroll Leavell, broke a personal streak lasting decades by voting Friday for a tax increase.  He joined all other members of the Senate Finance Committee in support of a budget for fiscal year 2018 that is balanced only because of new taxes and fees. “This is my 21st year and to my recollection it’s probably the first time supporting a tax increase", he said after the vote. “We’ve run out of any place else to get money and if someone wants to disagree with me, they can show me how to get it.”

Unfortunately, one of the people likely to disagree is the Governor.  There is a serious game of ‘chicken’ brewing if she steadfastly adheres to her policy of ‘no new taxes’.   If that veto happens in the next few days, it could have a major dampening effect on any number of bills in their race to final passage.  With that in mind, here are our best guesses regarding the important insurance bills that still have a chance:

  • HB80, the bill that allows compensation to deceased insurance agents’ estates is the only bill we are tracking that has a 100% chance since it has already passed both Houses.
  • SB79, which seeks to increase the ‘anti-rebate’ threshold for agents has the next best chance at 90%.  It is currently awaiting passage on the House calendar.
  • SB105, the ORSA Model Act that the OSI is required to pass to keep their NAIC accreditation is in pretty good shape with only the House Business Committee approval needed before a floor vote.  We give it a 75% chance of succeeding
  • In the exact same circumstance as the ORSA bill is another OSI measure, the annual ‘clean-up’ bill, SB367.
  • HB336, the bill that allows stop loss insurance to be used in health insurance is looking good with a 70% chance of passage with just one Senate committee to hurdle before a floor vote.
  • SB155, the ‘Hawkins/Cordova’ workers compensation fix is in a similar position with just House Judiciary to clear before a floor vote.  70% chance.
  • SB88, the Public Adjuster Bill, also needs to pass through House Judiciary but is yet to be scheduled, so perhaps a 60% guess is appropriate, since over 100 other bills currently sit in that committee awaiting their turn.
  • On the title insurance side of our ledger, the Duplicates Bill (SB212), has run into some opposition in the House Judiciary Committee, so we give it a 50/50 chance to survive intact.
  • SM57, the memorial to create a task force to study the high risk insurance issue involving road access near reservations has to pass through Senate Public Affairs before final passage.  It is not yet scheduled for a hearing, so we also give it a 50% chance.
  • Finally, our favorite non-insurance ‘dark horse’ bill this year has its best chance in years to pass.  The Permanent Daylight Savings bill, SB239, has to get through the House Judiciary Committee before a floor vote but is not yet scheduled.  Having endured the loss of yet another hour of sleep this week, it is our fervent hope that our lawmakers are motivated to put this anachronism to bed permanently.  There is perhaps a 40% chance that will happen.

We’ll be back next week with our final wrap-up report.  Until then we’ll keep a sleep deprived watch on everything happening during the final few days of the 2017 legislative session in Fanta Se! 

As the session progresses, NMLTA will be there every step of the way. We will send out weekly bulletins, timely legislative alerts, and will maintain a running list of all legislation affecting our industry.

Click the button below to view the Legislative Tracking Sheet, which we update daily.

If our short summary of a bill is not enough, you can select the link to the state’s legislative website ( to analyze legislation in more detail.  You can read and download the text of any bill; see when it will be in a committee hearing, learn about the sponsor; and much, much more. Just type in the bill number listed on our summary (i.e., HB210), and prepare to be informed!

As always, we welcome input members may have about the process. You can contact our lobby team, Thom Turbett & Tom Horan through the Association office.  They will be spending lots of time at the state capitol on your behalf. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or concerns by emailing Thom Turbett at:


NMLTA Office Building
1511 University Blvd. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87102

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