As snow flurries fell on Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning, the new Republican Congress was busy introducing a flurry of legislation as they came to power in full force this week. In addition to pushing through legislation to change the 30-hour workweek under the health reform law, members also took to changing the PPACA with legislation to repeal the contentious Medical Device Tax as well as legislation that would encourage employers to hire veterans and the long-term unemployed by removing them from the employer mandate calculations.
Yesterday, the Senate passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). This program expired at the end of last year after the Senate was unable to bring it up in its closing hours. While it had been passed and twice renewed with significant bipartisan support since 2002, a hold by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) kept it from reaching the Senate floor last December. With Coburn’s retirement, Congress once again moved this to be fast-tracked for this session. The House passed their bill on Wednesday by a vote of 416-5, and the Senate followed suit yesterday with a vote of 93-4. It is headed for the White House where it is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.
As with the version that failed at the tail end of the 113th Congress, the TRIA that was just passed by both houses this week included a provision authorizing the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB). The program is a second attempt to create a national clearinghouse for producer registration across all states. An earlier version was passed as part of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, but was never implemented because certain benchmarks weren’t met among the states. Instead, states opted for better reciprocity for non-resident licensing. The NARAB provision in TRIA (known as NARAB II) creates a national organization to oversee insurance producer reciprocal non-resident licensing and continuing education standards on a national basis—not a new federal regulator as was originally proposed back in 1999. Producers will be able to apply to be NARAB members, pay a membership fee as well as all requisite state licensing fees for each state in which they choose to do business, and then be held to a single non-resident licensing and continuing education standard for each line of authority. Senator Coburn had a hold on these provisions of the TRIA bill that he wouldn’t relinquish because he was concerned NARAB could impede state regulatory authority. NAHU did not actively engaged in lobbying regarding TRIA and took a neutral position on NARAB II.