New Year, New Laws

Ring in 2017 With New Laws

St. Paul, MN – With the new year comes a handful of new laws passed during the 2016 legislative session. These are the new laws going into effect January 1, 2017:

Presidential Primary Replaces Caucus Election

Minnesota will now choose presidential nominees through presidential primaries versus presidential caucuses. Previously, people who wanted to participate in the nomination process were required to go to their caucus location at a specific time in the evening. Absentee ballots are not allowed for caucus elections. This short window of time excluded many people from the process.

Presidential primaries makes it much easier for everybody to participate in the nomination process. During a primary election, the polls would be open all day, allowing people to vote when convenient for them. There would also be an option for an absentee ballot for those that are unable to make it to their polling stations the day of the primaries.

The switch to primary elections will cost the taxpayers an estimated $4 million. While the law takes effect this coming year, the first time Minnesotans will participate in the primaries is the 2020 presidential election. To read more about the change, click here.

Life Insurance Company Reserves

Life insurance companies will now face a new standard to decide how much to hold in reserve for life insurance, health and accident insurance, and annuities. Instead of the formulaic approach to decide how much to have in reserves, this new law requires insurance companies to use a principle-based approach. The uniform national act goes into effect January 1st, but there will be a 3-year implementation while the National Association of Insurance Commissioners finishes the valuation manual.

Workers’ Compensation Law Changes

The Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council suggested several worker’s compensations law changes that were put in place August 2016. Changes were made to the process for attorneys claiming payment of legal fees in worker’s compensation cases. However, healthcare providers and insurers were given until January 1, 2017 to comply with the electronic requirements. Now they must submit medical records and reports electronically along with the medical bill.

Worker’s compensation insurance companies also face new laws going into the new year. Insurance companies that provides worker’s compensation insurance to employers can set a retention limit, similar to a deductible. This limit decides the amount that the insurance company will have to pay before the Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance Association will start to cover the insurance company’s losses. The new law changes the old low limit for retention, and also adds a new “jumbo” limit for the highest level of retention.

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Christine Bauman
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