Louisiana Department of Insurance
MONTHLY REPORT
Volume 11, Issue 7
July 2011


Members
Commissioner Jim Donelon
Theodore "Ted" Haik, Jr., Chair
Jeff Albright, Vice Chair

Raymond J. Aleman, Sr.
Lee Ann Alexander
Paul Buffone
Sheriff Greg Champagne
Representative Page Cortez
Manuel DePascual
Nick Gautreaux
Michael Guy
Chris Haik
Lance "Wes" Hataway
Representative Chuck Kleckley
LTC John A. LeBlanc
Senator Eric LaFleur
Ann Metrailer
Robert Moorman
Senator Dan "Blade" Morrish
Stephen Schrempp
Earl Taylor
Rina Thomas


Staff
Terrell B. Moss, Director

David Evans,
Supervisor/Research Analyst

Katie Walsh, Administrative Assist./Research Analyst

If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter please send an email to the following address with "REMOVE" in the subject line.
kwalsh@ldi.la.gov

2011 Legislative Review

The 2011 Regular Legislative Session convened on April 25 with the final adjournment on June 23 and was dedicated primarily to fiscal and local or special matters. Many journalists and political analysts have commented that this session may be remembered for the bills that did not pass, rather than for those bills that were passed into law. The Governor signed 420 bills into effect this session. Five more acts are proposed constitutional amendments that require voter approval in the fall in order to become law. While the main concern was with the state’s budget issues, a handful of bills, including the Department of Insurance’s (LDI) package, and other bills dealing with highway safety, property and casualty insurance and DWI’s were also passed.

Below is a summary of some bills of interest passed in the 2011 Regular Legislative Session.

Louisiana continues to make strides in toughening and enforcing its DWI laws. This Session, several key pieces of legislation regarding DWI penalties and deterrents were signed into law.
  • HB 638 (Act 298) provides for the suspension of a driver’s license when arrested for vehicular homicide. If the suspect is found to be alcohol and/ or drug impaired, then his driver’s license is suspended for one year, without benefit of a hardship license. If convicted of DWI vehicular homicide, the offender’s license is suspended for a period of two years following release from incarceration with credit for the time the license was suspended prior to conviction.
  • Ignition interlock devices- as a DWI offender control- have been a topic of discussion at several past Louisiana Property and Casualty Insurance Commission (LPCIC) meetings. The State Executive Director for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) addressed commission members on ignition interlock device issues, including a need for increased monitoring. HB 505 (Act 192) requires ignition interlock manufacturers to increase minimum monitoring frequency from semiannually to bimonthly and also requires that the report to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C) be submitted in an electronic format.
  • For those sentenced to home incarceration- including DWI offenders- HB 106 (Act 168) requires the supervision provider or electronic monitoring service to submit annual and monthly reports regarding the supervision/ monitoring to the sentencing court, parish sheriff, and DPS&C.
Building Codes have also been discussed at several past LPCIC meetings. Guest speakers on the topic have included the Chairman of the Louisiana State Uniform Construction Code Council (LSUCCC). Building codes, mitigation, Chinese drywall, and code inspectors have been among the topics covered at the meetings. In its commitment to maintaining a strong enforceable statewide code the Legislature made some changes to existing law that may aid consumers and clarify a perceived conflict.
  • HB 271 (Act 391) concerns the role municipalities and parishes play in enforcing the state uniform construction code. Municipalities and parishes must provide a list of registered certified building inspectors to an applicant for a construction permit and are authorized to accept life safety and fire protection determinations made by the state fire marshal. Further, the Act prohibits municipalities and parishes from imposing an inspection fee when they have contracted for construction code enforcement with third-party providers or other governmental entities that have actually performed the inspection and collected the fee.
  • Where windblown debris storm shutters are required on new residential construction by the state code, HB 273 (Act 92) authorizes local governments to allow the new property owner to occupy the residence before the shutters are installed if the owner provides an affidavit stating that the shutters have been ordered and will be installed. The Act also requires the shutters to be installed within 90 days of occupancy and installation verified by a final inspection.
  • House Resolution (HR) 53 recognizes the necessity of the state uniform construction code, the many changes that have been made to it since it was enacted in 2005, and the current economic conditions. With this understanding, HR 53 directs the LSUCCC to recommend changes to the code by January 1, 2012.
Of the seven bills included in the LDI legislative package, five were passed, including HB 283 (Act 94) which continues the recodification of certain provisions in the Louisiana Insurance Code. In consideration of Rhett Jeansonne and Kim Sledge, two LDI fraud investigators who were killed in the line of duty, SB 271 (Act 157) provides benefits for the surviving spouse and children of a state employee who suffers death while conducting an investigation, serving a subpoena, or collecting evidence concerning a possible violation of state law.

The flooding of the Mississippi River this spring became a serious concern for many Louisiana residents.
  • In order to permit navigation and shipping to continue unimpeded, House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 163 urges Congress and the President to provide adequate funding to continue essential dredging activities on the Lower Mississippi River to remove the 60 million cubic yards of silt left by the high water.
  • HCR 201 urges the U.S. Corps of Engineers to examine their protocols for management of the water in the Mississippi River in regard to when control structures and spillways are opened and closed and to determine if those protocols remain appropriate in consideration of 2011’s historic spring flood.
  • Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 66 requests the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Coast Guard to gather information learned during the 2011 Mississippi River floods about its various impacts, and update plans for future flooding conditions on the river, and report prior to the 2012 Regular Session.

Boating Safety: Exercise Caution on the Water

Louisiana truly is a "sportsman’s paradise." With 302,141 recreational boats registered to the state in 2010, Louisiana ranks 10th in the nation in per capita boat ownership. To many residents, summertime in the South is synonymous with fishing on the bayou, the Tarpon Rodeo in Grand Isle and taking the boat out to Lake Pontchartrain. Sadly, several boating deaths across the state have become top news stories over the past few months.

Through June of this year, 27 Louisiana boating deaths had already been reported, surpassing the total of 21 for all of 2010. Unfortunately, this years’ total is growing, as several deaths have already been recorded for the month of July, including the recent deaths of a 58-year-old man and his 27-year-old nephew.

According to a report from Wildlife and Fisheries, operator inattention is the leading cause of boating accidents, causing 23 percent of collisions. Excessive speed comes in second, drunken driving is third. All passengers younger than 16 are required to wear a life jacket in Louisiana, but authorities urge everyone to have one handy. Drowning is the leading cause of boating deaths. Of the 17 people who drowned in Louisiana in 2009, 15 were not wearing life jackets.

In light of the recent fatal boat wrecks, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is launching a boater safety campaign, distributing brochures to marinas and installing signs warning boaters to drive safely. Furthermore, in an attempt to strengthen boating safety laws, HB 291 (Act 264) was passed in the 2011 Regular Legislative Session. The law provides for boating safety and requires careful operation of watercrafts.

Take advantage of Louisiana’s beautiful rivers, lakes and bayous, but remember to exercise caution when out on the water.  Below are several boating safety tips offered by Allstate:

  • Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) when boating.  Never substitute an inflatable toy for a PFD.
  • Never drink and boat. Alcohol use was either a direct or indirect contributing factor in approximately one-fifth of all boating fatalities.
  • Pay attention to weather changes. Head for shore when winds increase or storm clouds roll in.
  • Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Be aware of exhaust emissions. Avoid areas where carbon monoxide collects in and around your boat.
  • Follow Red, Right, Returning. Keep red buoys to your right (starboard) and green buoys to your left (port) when returning from sea.
  • Take a boating safety course from an expert organization, such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or United States Power Squadrons.  Consistent with previous years, 70 percent of reported fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.
  • Make sure your boat insurance is up-to-date.

Reminder: Filing Seminar

The 8th Annual Louisiana Filing and Compliance Seminar will be held in conjunction with the Louisiana Insurer’s Conference.  The seminar will be held August 12th at the Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge and will include a welcome by Commissioner Jim Donelon, legislative review, breakout sessions and a discussion of hot topics.

Additional conference details, including the conference agenda, are available on the Louisiana Department of Insurance website:
http://www.ldi.la.gov/Property_Casualty/Rating/2011FilingSeminar.html