PIANY’s Regional Advisory Councils hold Spring Into Advocacy meetings with local legislators

June 2, 2021

PIANY held its quarterly Regional Advisory Council meetings, which included a special Spring Into Advocacy event, May 18-28. The Spring Into Advocacy meetings were town-hall style, and they allowed independent agents to hear from their local legislators, and ask them insurance industry-related questions.

The RAC’s meetings are informal, quarterly roundtable discussions at which PIANY agency members can share their opinions about the industry’s hottest issues, they can access the most up-to-date industry information, they can influence the association’s programs and services, and they can network with their peers.

Spring Into Advocacy

Several members from both the state Senate and state Assembly attended the regional meetings or sent someone from their offices to represent them during the Spring Into Advocacy meetings.

At each meeting, the first part of the discussion included PIANY’s 2021 legislative priorities.

Photo inspections. PIANY members who attended the meetings sought support for A.6877/S.628—sponsored by Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski Jr., D-96, and Sen. Neil D. Breslin, D-44, respectively—which would make the photo inspection for collision coverage on an auto policy optional, at the discretion of the insurance carrier.

PIANY supports and prioritizes these bills because there are other ways to prevent insurance fraud. Additionally, requiring photo inspections could harm policyholders who live in rural communities—where locations to get these inspections done are few and far between, requiring policyholders to travel several miles to get them done. And, PIANY believes that the inspections are unnecessary and redundant. Legislators in most regions support making the photo inspection optional and could see that the law had largely outlived its usefulness.

E&S affidavits. In addition to the photo-inspection bills, PIANY members also expressed the need for excess line reform. S.498-A/A.5241-A—sponsored by Sen. Breslin and Assemblywoman Pamela J. Hunter, D-128, respectively—would simplify the affidavit requirement when an excess-line broker puts a policy in the excess-line market because an admitted insurer will not write the risk. Simplifying the affidavit would relieve some burdens from brokers and reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the transaction, which is beneficial to the consumer.

Additional issues

Broadband access. PIANY asked legislators from each region what their biggest concerns were, and there was almost universal agreement that broadband access was an issue that needed to be addressed in New York for businesses and private residences. Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the extent of the issue with people working from home and with children engaged in remote learning.

Currently, there are two bills in the state Legislature to address this issue. S.1058—sponsored by Sen. Rachel May, D-53—relates to communications union districts and would allow two or more municipalities to propose an agreement to voters to operate a communications plant and deliver communications services to those municipalities. This bill is based on a law in Vermont that achieved the same thing and was successful. In addition to S.1058, S.5523 (also sponsored by May) would establish the “municipal broadband fund” to provide grants to municipal corporations for broadband projects and services.

Cannabis law. Additionally, some legislators are concerned about the lack of specificity in the cannabis law, and how the legalization of cannabis could impact the Scaffold Law and the strict liability standard found in Labor Law Section 240 and Section 241. If there is no way to accurately test for marijuana, a construction worker could work onsite while under the influence and fall off a ladder According to the strict liability standard in the New York’s Labor Law, the owner of the business is 100% liable—even if the worker was in no state to be working.

Long-term care/mental health. State legislators also are concerned about long-term care and mental health issues. People are living longer and want to stay in their home, which means long-term care needs to be more accessible and affordable than it is currently. Regarding mental health issues, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a lack of services and support for individuals seeking to manage their mental health—some state legislators believe something should be done to address this issue.

There were myriad attendees at the RAC’s Spring Into Advocacy event. Below is a list of attendees from each New York region:

Capital Region

  • Sen. James N. Tedisco, R-49
  • Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-112
  • Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-113
  • Director of Community Relations Ryan Aguam (Sen. Tedisco)
  • Legislative Assistant Nadine Al Annabi (Sen. Anna M. Kaplan, D-7)
  • Legislative Director Brian Coffin (Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-46)
  • Social Media Coordinator and Special Assistant Brooke Joy (Sen. Daphne V. Jordan, R-43)

Central

  • Sen. Rachel May, D-53
  • Constituent Liaison John Ferguson (Assemblyman William B. Magnarelli, D-129)

Finger Lakes

  • Sen. Thomas F. O’Mara, R-58
  • Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes, R-133Policy Analyst Greg Goodnough (Sen. O’Mara)

Hudson Valley

  • Director of Constituent Services Jennifer Castelhano (Sen. Peter B. Harckham, D-40)
  • Legislative Assistant Max Cordella (Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, D-38)
  • Chief of Staff Rachel Estroff (Sen. Shelley B. Mayer, D-37)
  • District Office Manager Jacob Coupart (Assemblyman Jonathan G. Jacobson, D-104)

Long Island

  • Sen. John E. Brooks, D-8
  • Sen. Mario R. Mattera, R-2
  • Sen. Alexis Weik, R-3
  • Assemblyman Steve Stern, D-10
  • Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., R-1
  • Chief of Staff Donna Nogid, (Sen. Kevin Thomas, D-6)

New York City

  • Community Liaison Jon Gallo, (Sen. John C. Liu, D-11)
  • Legislative Director Victoria Clark(Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., D-15)

North Country

  • Assemblyman Matthew J. Simpson, R-114

Western

  • Sen. George Borrello, R-57
  • Sen. Robert G. Ortt, R-61
  • Sen. Edward A. Rath III, R-61
  • Assemblyman Josh Jensen, R-134
  • Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, R-145
  • Deputy Counsel of Conference Operations Ben Kosinski (Sen. Ortt)
  • Constituent Relations Aide Joseph Marranca, III (Sen. Ortt)
  • Field Representative Alex Quinn (Sen. Ortt)

Ongoing advocacy

PIANY advocacy does not stop after these meetings. Your association’s

leadership will continue to meet with state legislators who were unable to attend the RAC meetings during the association’s District Office Visit program.

RAC discussions

In addition to legislative meetings, the RACs discussed issues in the excess-line market, including the impact of the current declinations process on their ability to place coverage in the excess-line market and what lines of insurance they would like to see added to the export list.

And, members gave feedback on what content they would like to see from Agents Advocacy Coalition and what would inspire them to give to their state political action committee.

Also, the RAC attendees discussed technology in their offices and their plans to deal with the recent legalization of recreational cannabis. The new law requires employers to create and share with all employees an updated drug policy, which needs to include rules for medical cannabis.

Members gave feedback on what continuing-education topics they would like PIA to create, including classes on cannabis and the NY HERO Act. Watch your PIA Northeast publications for more information from the New York State Department of Health on how to comply with this new law, once the chapter amendments are passed.

The meetings finished with a reminder for everyone to register for PIA Northeast’s Virtual Conference 2021, which takes place June 8-9. Attendees will have the opportunity to earn 13 CE credits, experience an unbeatable virtual trade show listen to myriad keynote and featured speakers and network with their insurance colleagues from the Northeast region.

You can learn more about PIANY’s Regional Advisory Council program by calling (800) 424-4244 or emailing salbright@pia.org.

About the author…

Katherine “Kat” Slye-Hernandez, Ph.D.

Katherine “Kat” Slye-Hernandez, Ph.D., joined PIA’s Government & Industry Affairs team in 2018 as government and industry affairs specialist. Now, as the PAC coordinator & public policy analyst, she is responsible for managing political action committees in New York and New Jersey; tracking legislation and regulations; helping manage the association’s advocacy initiatives throughout the Northeast states; and drafting position statements and testimonies. Kat previously worked as a Senate fellow for the New York State Senate Fellowship Program; as well as an instructor of public policy at the State University of Albany, Albany, N.Y. She also worked as a senior research aid and assistant for the SUNY Research Foundation, Albany, N.Y. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the State University of Albany, Albany, N.Y., in May 2020. She also has her Master of Arts from SUNY Albany and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and History from Elmira College, Elmira, N.Y.

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