The 2022 legislative session will begin during the first week of January. Due to the ongoing challenges associated with large group gatherings, the 400 member House will meet at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Manchester. The 24-member Senate will likely use the much larger House of Representatives Chamber within the State House to allow for their members to be further apart than in the Senate Chamber. So far, both bodies appear to be planning for in person hearings at the State House. It is likely both bodies will provide live streaming of the hearings, but it does not appear that they will be allowing for remote testimony. We will see how the session moves forward, but at the outset, it seems there will be an attempt to make things as close to normal as one could expect during a pandemic.
Prior to each legislative session, Hal Sullivan, NAIFA-NH VP of Government Relations, and Adam Schmidt, NAIFA-NH Lobbyist with J. Grimbilas Strategic Solutions, attempt to meet with the leadership of the NH Insurance Department and the NH Bureau of Securities Regulation to discuss legislation they may be looking to introduce as well as share observations from the industry. We were able to hold separate meetings with each regulator over the past several weeks. Initially, we met with NH Insurance Commissioner Chris Nicolopoulos and his Deputy DJ Bettencourt. We discussed a number of important issues to producers and their clients. Hal was able to share NAIFA’s perspective on the marketplace. More recently, we met with Director Barry Glennon and some of his senior staff at the Bureau of Securities Regulations. Much of the conversation focused on the changing regulatory proposals at the federal level and how they could impact state level regulation. Both meetings were beneficial for exchanging information. These types of direct meetings with key regulators is one of the many reasons why NH is a unique state. In many states, access to high level administrators within important agencies is difficult. We appreciated both agencies willingness to connect and look forward to continuing our collaborative working relationships.
At this point, most, but not all, of the House bills for the 2022 session have been printed. None of the Senate bills have been made public but it is likely many will be prior to the end of the year. As a follow up to our last update, the proposal entitled, “Relative to Life Insurance Discrimination Based On Vaccination Status” still is not available. Once we see it, we will provide it to NAIFA-NH for their input and direction. Not all of the bills that seek to repeal or amend the recently passed Family Leave Plan have been made public. Recently, the State of NH contracted with a vendor to assist with plan design and other important implementation details. We will likely hear more details about the voluntary product in the near future, unless some of the bills to repeal the program are passed.
For the first time, we are seeing legislation to clarify how blockchain technology and cryptocurrency offerings should be regulated in the State. HB 1503 proposes to exempt developers, sellers, or facilitators of the exchange of an open blockchain token from certain securities laws. To be exempt the developer, seller or a person who facilitates the exchange of an open blockchain token, or the registered agent of the applicable person, shall electronically file a notice of intent with the Secretary of State. The bill indicates that the proposal to file the notice may have some challenges due to the need to upgrade the IT infrastructure within the Bureau of Securities Regulation. In addition, HB 1502 proposes digital assets are property within the Uniform Commercial Code. The bill would authorize security interests in digital assets, allows banks to provide custodial services for digital asset property, and provides procedures for the provision of custodial services. Like HB 1503, the proposed regulator indicates that they may be challenged by the intended regulatory structure. Since we have not seen bills similar to either proposal in the past, it is likely that both will receive additional coverage from the press. You may see coverage of the public hearings in the press in 2022.
The final few weeks of 2021 will not have much legislative activity. Bills will continue to be printed, which we will review and send along those that could impact NAIFA-NH members. While the State House is quiet, it is hard not to get the sense that it is the “calm before the storm”. A lot will be happening in 2022.