The 2019 Legislative session will be unlike any New Hampshire has experienced in a long time. The November 2018 election provided something for everyone. Democrats were successful in obtaining new majorities in the House, Senate, and Executive Council. Republicans were able to re-elect a Governor for the first time since 1994. It has been a long time since New Hampshire had a Republican Governor and a Democratic Legislature and Executive Council. We are in uncharted waters. No one is certain how this session will unfold.
While the political composition of the session is unique, many of the issues in which NAIFA has interests are unfortunately familiar. As some legislators attempt to find solutions for individuals to save for their child’s education or plan for their own retirement, they are turning to state operated programs while many private sectors options are available. Last session, NAIFA was the only producer group to oppose legislation which would have created a state run retirement program for private sector employers. Fortunately, due largely to NAIFA’s efforts, the bill did not pass. This session, there are bills which have been re-introduced to create a state funded program to help increase financial literacy and help parents save of their child’s education. The premise is solid and the goal is noble, however, the plan would essentially fund a learning account which would become a 529 over time. At this point, the funding for the program come from the state’s general fund. Last year, that option was eliminated in favor of increased fees on investment products registered with the State of NH. This means NAIFA members clients would end up indirectly funding this program.
In addition, it appears there is broad bi-partisan support for a state run paid family leave insurance program. Despite the support for the concept, Governor Sununu and Democratic Legislative leaders differ a great deal on the details. Sununu’s preference is to use the existing state employee base, and those from the State of Vermont, to create pool of lives to be insured for paid family leave through a private carrier. Small businesses and individuals would be given an opportunity to buy into this plan. Costs would vary, depending on several factors. Democratic leaders prefer a model where employers could opt out of the state plan, if they covered their employees a plan equal to or better than a number of specific criteria. If an employer did not have a policy, either they, or using a withholding from their employees, would submit an amount equal to .5% of their employees weekly wages to the state. The goal is to expand coverage to all NH workers, not just those who purchase coverage. This debate is in its infancy but will likely become a prolonged battle throughout the session.
NAIFA-NH, along with staff at the national level, have been working with the NH Insurance Department on a proposal to require enhanced cyber security for all insurance licensees. The Department has used a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) model for their proposed legislation. NAIFA-NH would like to see several state specific changes to ensure that smaller producers are not overburdened with additional information technology requirements and costs. No one wants to see their clients personal information be compromised. Yet, there are reasonable steps will be pursue to ensure that NAIFA members are not over come with administrative headaches and unnecessary costs. To date, the Department has been willing to listen to our concerns. We will continue to work with them and hopefully create small, but meaningful, changes to the bill.
NAIFA members will likely hear more about legislation designed to provide immunity for slowing down transactions in which there is suspected financial exploitation. The bill is designed to primarily protect elderly individuals who may be coerced or deceived into dispersing or investing their money. If an advisor were to suspect that a client is about to be a victim of a fraud, they can delay the transaction until more information can be collected. NAIFA will be supporting this legislation as it should help its members more effectively protect their clients.
The key to ensure that you are aware of these, and many other issues, is to remain engaged with NAIFA. The Legislature often debates important issues which can effect your business. There is an old saying, “if you are not at the table, you are on the table.” That is certainly true in Concord.
This is my 18th year working with the Association. This year, I will be doing so with a new firm, J. Grimbilas Strategic Solutions, LLC. I look forward to continuing to work with NAIFA and addressing issues that the Association faces.
Adam Schmidt, Vice President, J. Grimbilas Strategic Solutions, LLC
Questions or comments?
NAIFA-NH Government Relations Chairperson, NAIFA-NH