Recap: How PIWA’s initiatives fared this legislative session

June 13, 2023

In New York state the 2023 legislative session was scheduled to conclude on June 8. The state Senate adjourned on Saturday, June 10, at 3:27 a.m. And, the state Assembly closed its session later that day at 4:35 p.m. However, it appears that the Assembly’s adjournment may be short-lived. As Saturday progressed, too many Democrats had departed the chamber—denying it the ability to move controversial bills. Thus, they adjourned to convene at the call of the speaker—an uncertain date. It is probable they will return to tackle the controversial legislation that was left undone, and also to pass some of the insurance bills we are tracking below.

A brief session recap

The 2023-24 legislative term convened on Jan. 4, 2023, with the annual State of the State address delivered on Jan. 10, 2023.

The early session was marked by speculation about Gov. Kathy Hochul’s ability to work with a Legislature with Democratic super majorities who can override her vetoes, and a Senate that rejected her pick for Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. On Jan. 30, she vetoed the wrongful-death legislation that had advanced in the prior session.

The budget process that began in late January revealed the governor’s policy and political directions by highlighting mental health, crime and housing as the focus of her attention. A host of issues including unlicensed cannabis sales, bail reform, housing, MTA funding, charter schools and minimum wage proved a challenging combination to negotiate, and the $229 billion budget was passed nearly a full month late—the latest budget in a decade. The budget contained a limited number of insurance-related measures including adoption of a long-term care guarantee fund and most notably, a rental property lead paint registry. However, her key issue of affordable housing was not included in the budget; nor was it resolved at the end of regular session.

The Assembly Insurance Committee welcomed Assemblyman David Weprin, D-24, as the committee’s new chair, joining longtime committee chair Sen. Neil Breslin, D-46, in their respective roles. As the session progressed, the Senate and Assembly insurance committees met five and six times, respectively—both shutting down in late May. The Senate committee discharged 41 bills, and the Assembly committee discharged 54 bills—a small fraction of the hundreds of bills referenced to the committees for consideration and analysis.

Major initiatives negotiated at the end of session included: an omnibus housing package on which the Senate and Assembly reached agreement, but which the governor indicated she would not accept.

Other notable legislation considered at the very end of session includes a measure to seal certain convictions for past offenders, the so-called “clean slate” bill and a modification of the campaign finance laws, both of which passed by unusually slim margins.

A recap of insurance-related legislation

Wrongful death (A.6698/S.6636–Weinstein/Hoylman-Sigal). This bill passed both houses: Assembly on June 1, Senate on June 6.

By being the first house to pass the bill, the Assembly “controls” the bill, and it can choose when to send the bill to the governor’s office. Typically, the governor’s office asks for the bill to be sent when it wishes to receive it. The big questions surrounding the bill now are when it will be sent, specifically whether the Assembly will send it soon, likely as-is, or if it will hold it. The latter scenario suggests the possibility of chapter amendments being negotiated.

ELANY extender (S.4354/A.4984B–Breslin/D. Rosenthal). This bill passed the Senate and Assembly on June 5.

Some procedural curiosities preceded final passage, however, the ELANY extender was referred to Assembly Rules Committee on May 24, 2023. The bill was amended twice on May 31 to clarify some technical wording related inspection of broker records by ELANY. The bill passed the Senate in March, and on June 1 was recalled, amended to match the Assembly bill, and restored to a third reading before its final passage.

Med-mal excess line insurance (A.4597/S.2796). Passed Senate, died in Assembly.

Diligent effort (S.5896/A.5253). Passed Senate, died in Assembly.

Unfair claims/bad faith (A.7139/S.1797–Weinstein/Ramos). Died in Senate Insurance/Assembly Codes.

This bill was reported out of the Assembly Insurance Committee to Assembly Codes, and from there to Assembly Rules. The bill did not move from the Senate Insurance Committee.

Deceptive business practices/”Consumer and Small business Protection Act” (A.7138/S.795–Weinstein/Comrie). Died in Assembly Codes/Senate Consumer Protection.

This bill was reported to Assembly Codes on May 23, 2023. S.795 did not move out of Senate Consumer Protection. A.7138 sought to enhance class-action lawsuits with attorney fees brought under an expanded deceptive act provision of General Business Law and is colloquially known as the Litigation Bomb bill for its foreseeable outcome.

Lead. There were different lead-related measures floating around, the most concerning of which centered on eliminating the lead exclusion in rental property policies. None advanced this session.

Lead paint/lead exclusion (S.88/A.1687–Ryan/Rivera).Passed Assembly, died in Senate Insurance Committee.

This pending legislation would prohibit the lead exclusion in certain policies covering rental properties. This bill passed the state Assembly, but it did not move in the Senate. A related policy initiative was included in the final adopted budget (S.4007C/A.3007C). The prevention of lead poisoning in rental properties was identified as a priority by Gov. Hochul in this year’s budget, and the program implemented by S.4007C/A.3007C created a state registry of certain rental properties, mandating proactive lead paint inspections in certain high concern areas, and requires the compliance with such law as a condition to the issuance of a certificate of occupancy following a periodic fire safety inspection. This approach encourages the remediation of lead risks without unsettling the insurance market and the negative consequences flowing from S.88/A.1687.

DFS pay parity (S.7500/A.7576–Breslin/Joyner). Passed the Senate on June 7, 2023, and it died in the Assembly Labor Committee.

The bill would direct the New York State Department of Financial Services to conduct a comprehensive study on how the DFS may create a compensation system commensurate with the compensation systems of similar federal financial regulators and to issue a report on its findings.

RRGs for car-sharing (A.5718B/S.5959B–Kelles/Webb). Passed both Houses.

This legislation would allow certain risk retention groups to satisfy the financial responsibility requirements for car-share services passed the Senate on June 5, 2023, and the Assembly on June 8, 2023.

Non-licensed insurers (S.7420/A.7770–Krueger/Bores). Passed the Senate, died in the Assembly. This bill purports to “allow[s] the department of financial services to have additional oversight of banks and insurance companies that are not currently licensed in this state; provides penalties for violations.”

Campbell Wallace, Esq.
Pastel & Rosen LLP

Campbell Wallace is a partner at Pastel & Rosen LLP. Having served as a counsel in the New York state Assembly and as a registered lobbyist for various organizations in multiple states, he brings to the firm and its clients extensive insurance and legal expertise, and legislative acumen.

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