Banking Commerce and Insurance

Banking regulation bill broadened, advanced from first round after cloture

A measure that would eliminate an onsite review requirement for title insurance agents was amended to become an omnibus committee bill and advanced to the second round of debate April 18 after a successful cloture motion.

Sen. Julie Slama
Sen. Julie Slama

Under current law, title insurers are required to conduct an onsite annual review of a title insurance agent’s practices. As introduced by Dunbar Sen. Julie Slama, LB92 would remove the requirement that the review be done onsite. She said the COVID-19 pandemic made clear that the annual review could successfully be conducted remotely rather than in person.

A Banking, Commerce and Insurance Committee amendment, adopted 46-0, added provisions of 13 additional bills heard by the committee this year:
• LB3, introduced by Bellevue Sen. Rita Sanders, which would change provisions for tax levies for bonds issued by political subdivisions;
• LB68, introduced by Slama, which would increase from $500,000 to $1 million the minimum amount of proof of financial responsibility of medical malpractice liability for health care providers beginning Jan. 1, 2024, and increase professional liability insurance from $1 million to $3 million for aggregate limits for physicians and nurse anesthetists;
• LB93, also introduced by Slama, which would update requirements regarding security deposits made by insurers for the benefit of policyholders to include creditors in the same manner as policyholders;
• LB145, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Eliot Bostar, which would, among other provisions, amend laws relating to insurance coverage requirements for mammography screening and breast examinations by expanding coverage for younger women and those with increased breast cancer risk and heterogeneous or dense breast tissue, beginning Jan. 1, 2024;
• LB207, introduced by Elkhorn Sen. R. Brad von Gillern, which would allow a sale of trust property under the Nebraska Trust Deeds Act to occur at a public building where county offices are located within the county in which the property to be sold — or some part of it — is located;
• LB214, introduced by Slama, which would adopt federal updates to state banking and finance law and change provisions relating to the Nebraska Installment Loan Act and loan brokerage agreements;
• LB383, also sponsored by Bostar, which would require coverage of at-home colorectal cancer screening kits and prohibit imposition of a deductible, coinsurance or other cost-sharing requirement for screening colonoscopies, including those performed as a result of a positive non-colonoscopy, stool-based preventive screen;
• LB392, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Beau Ballard, which would authorize the electronic delivery of certain health benefit plan documents;
• LB437, also sponsored by Ballard, which would change the renewal period for business entity licenses under the Insurance Producers Licensing Act from annual to biennial, beginning April 30, 2024;
• LB536, introduced by Slama, which would change provisions relating to investment by insurers in preferred and common stock;
• LB587, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart, which would create a regulatory sandbox program under the state Department of Insurance to allow a participant to temporarily test innovative insurance products or services on a limited basis without otherwise being licensed or authorized under state law;
• LB669, introduced by Ballard, which would allow the department to prescribe conditions on certain financial institutions as a part of any order, decision or determination required under state laws governing those institutions;
• LB674, introduced by Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte, which would update state law that governs digital asset depository institutions and digital asset departments within banks to improve regulation and make technical corrections; and
• LB779, sponsored by Bostar, which would specify that if there were a national shortage of an insulin drug, a covered individual would be ensured access to insulin at a maximum of $35 per 30-day supply until such time that the national shortage ends to prevent disruptions in patient access.

Slama, chairperson of the committee, said the amendment included mostly noncontroversial measurers that represent important updates to the state’s banking and insurance regulations. She noted that LB145 and LB383 in particular could save lives by encouraging expanded preventive screenings for breast and colorectal cancer.

“This is really a bill where everyone should be able to find something they like in it,” Slama said.

Ralston Sen. Merv Riepe expressed concern, however, that the portions of the bill expanding preventive care insurance coverage mandates represented government “encroachment” that could result in the state becoming a “health care dictator.”

An attempt by Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne to strip Slama’s LB68 from the bill was unsuccessful. He said lawmakers should take a comprehensive look at medical malpractice caps and liability rather than addressing the issue piecemeal, but his amendment failed on a vote of 12-17.

Sen. Mike McDonnell of Omaha then offered an amendment, adopted 41-1, that added provisions of his LB616, which would attempt to align Nebraska’s economic development structure with the requirements of a federal microchip program. It also added his LB617, which would create the Economic Development Cash Fund to provide matching grants to a Nebraska-based covered entity that qualifies under the federal CHIPS for America Act.

“The CHIPS Act presents an extraordinary opportunity in Nebraska to capitalize on the growing semiconductor industry,” McDonnell said. “This industry is critical in the development of advanced technologies, many of which have direct applications in agriculture.”

Another amendment brought by Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont, adopted 46-0, added the provisions of her LB278, which would require the Nebraska Investment Finance Authority and the state Department of Economic Development to use their best efforts to obtain state and federal grants to build safe, affordable and accessible housing for individuals with disabilities and collaborate with the state Department of Health and Human Services to obtain such grants.

Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh offered a series of procedural motions to extend discussion on LB92, which she said was an effort to allow time for ongoing negations among other senators on a different measure that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors in Nebraska. None of the motions were adopted.

After eight hours of debate, Slama offered a motion to invoke cloture, which ceases debate and forces a vote on the bill and any pending amendments. The motion was adopted 48-0 and senators then voted 46-0 to advance LB92 to the second round of debate.

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