State Farm’s Position on Current Issues
2019 Legislative Update
The North Star PAC is not aligned with any political party and advances its public policy positions on a non-partisan basis, focusing resources on pro-small business candidates in competitive races. We have a strong record of success. The North Star PAC leadership team fosters legislative relationships and keeps lines of communication open with both Republican and DFL leadership and key committee members. We do this by volunteering of our time by attending fundraisers, meetings, and executing a strategic campaign contribution plan.
During the last Legislative Session, HF476, a bill to prohibit the use of family exclusion clauses in boat liability and umbrella policies, was aggressively advanced. Ultimately, we defeated the bill thanks to Agent’s calls to legislators, our lobbyists, and legislative allies. We continue to see this type of legislation on an annual basis. To safeguard against this and other problematic proposals, the North Star PAC must remain strong and continue supporting candidates and legislative leadership that have shared values and policy positions.
Issues in 2020
The 2020 Legislative Session will begin in February and several issues related to the insurance industry are anticipated:
- Autonomous Vehicles – As new technology is rolled out in Minnesota, insurance advocates need to be at the table to guide and shape new laws and regulations.
- Recreational Marijuana – Gaining in popularity across the nation, we need to educate legislators on how such a move could affect judgment and actuarial considerations.
- Mandated Paid Family Medical Leave – The most recent proposal would have taxed Agents as an employee and taxed them a second time as an employer to anyone in their office.
Our goal is to increase State Farm Agent participation. Currently 14% of all MN Agents are members of the PAC and some of our long term members are retiring. If you are one of the 86% not participating what is keeping you from wanting to protect your business for $3.25 per day?
We are asking you to consider a suggested contribution of $100 per month, though any contribution is appreciated.
Simply Click on the Make a Donation button on the right!
Thank you in advance for your support. Your contribution does and will make a difference. It is an investment in your career.
Minnesota’s 2018 Primary Results
A large and surprising turnout by Minnesota voters in the state’s primary races determined who will be on the ballot in the November general election. Voter turnout for yesterday’s primary was approximately 22 percent, the highest since 1994. The Secretary of State’s office credits the high turnout to having a number of high profile, competitive races and no-excuse absentee voting. Of the votes cast in the primary, almost 600,000 were Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) votes while 319,000 were Republican Party votes.
The following provides a detailed summary of the results. There were many other contested races starting with the top of the ticket all of the way down to local county commissioners. We will be providing periodic general election updates as the election season unfolds, all of the way through Election Day, November 6, 2018.
- Tim Walz, 41.65 percent
- Erin Murphy, 32.05 percent
- Lori Swanson, 24.51 percent
Tim Walz is a former Mankato High School social studies teacher and Army veteran who has successfully held the conservative 1st District in Congress as a Democrat for the last 12 years. Now, he is running for governor arguing he is one of the only candidates who can bridge the state’s urban and rural divide.
- Jeff Johnson, 52.60 percent
- Tim Pawlenty, 43.88 percent
The former legislator and current Hennepin County board member is making his second run at the governor’s office after losing to Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014. Jeff Johnson has the backing of the Republican Party in his bid, saying he will cut government spending and taxes and temporarily stop the resettlement of refugees in the state.
- Keith Ellison, 49.85 percent
- Debra Hilstrom, 19.10 percent
- Tom Foley, 12.52 percent
- Matt Pelikan, 10.62 percent
- Mike Rothman, 7.90 percent
After serving in the Minnesota House, Keith Ellison survived a crowded primary field in 2006 to represent the state’s urban 5th District in Congress. Now, he wants to leave Washington, DC, and return to Minnesota as attorney general, saying he would take on union and civil rights cases and push back on policies from the federal government.
- Doug Wardlow, 46.28 percent
- Bob Lessard, 21.64 percent
Before running for attorney general, Doug Wardlow served one term as a Republican House member from Eagan. He is an attorney who was has worked on constitutional cases like eminent domain and religious freedom challenges. Wardlow is endorsed by the party and running to do similar work on a statewide level, as well as help prosecutors in all 87 counties.
U.S. Senate—Seat to expire in 2020
- Tina Smith, 76.04 percent
- Richard Painter, 13.72 percent
- Nick Leonard, 2.90 percent
Tina Smith got her start in politics operating behind the scenes to help elect Democrats like former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and eventually Dayton. She served as both lawmakers’ chief of staff before joining Dayton on the ticket as lieutenant governor in 2014. Smith is now defending the Senate seat after her appointment, winning the DFL Party’s backing and positioning herself as a progressive on issues like gun control, abortion rights and immigration.
- Karin Housley, 61.97 percent
- Bob Anderson, 35.58 percent
Karin Housley is a real estate agent and two-term Republican senator from St. Mary’s Point. She won the GOP endorsement in the race for the Senate and is touting her work to prevent elder abuse, cut regulations and lower taxes for small businesses.
U.S. Senate—Seat to expire in 2024
- Amy Klobuchar, 95.69 percent
Amy Klobuchar is the senior U.S. Senator from Minnesota, serving since 2007. She was previously Hennepin County Attorney.
- Jim Newberger, 69.49 percent
- Merrill Anderson, 15.69 percent
Jim Newberger has served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for three terms from central Minnesota.
1st Congressional District
- Jim Hagedorn, 60.18 percent
- Carla Nelson, 32.13 percent
Jim Hagedorn is a conservative blogger and a former employee of the U.S. Treasury. He has challenged Tim Walz for the seat twice, coming within a percentage point of beating him in 2016. He is making his third run for the seat and was endorsed by the Republican Party.
5th Congressional District
- Ilhan Omar, 48.34 percent
- Margaret Anderson Kelliher, 30.25 percent
- Patricia Torres Ray, 13.05 percent
- Jamal Abdulahi, 3.70 percent
- Frank Drake, 1.82 percent
Ilhan Omar is a first-term state House member from Minneapolis who previously worked as a policy aide in city hall. She now works on policy through the Women Organizing Network. Omar, the DFL-endorsed candidate, is running to help bridge economic disparities and expand health care coverage through a single-payer system.
8th Congressional District
- Joe Radinovich, 43.42 percent
- Michelle Lee, 28.02 percent
- Jason Metsa, 12.59 percent
- Kirsten Hagen Kennedy, 12.33 percent
- Soren Christian Sorensen, 3.64 percent
Joe Radinovich was a political activist and organizer before he ran and won a rural seat in the Minnesota House. He lost that seat two years later but moved on to campaigns, organizing the successful re-election of Rep. Rick Nolan and the election of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. The Crosby native is running on a pro-union and pro-choice platform promising to bring more infrastructure funding back to the district.
Financial Services Reform
Financial Services Reform: “State Farm is not opposed to financial services reform. It is opposed to imposing costly and unnecessary regulation on insurers based on the mistaken assumption that they pose a systemic risk comparable to large banks and investment houses.” Steve McManus, associate general counsel, State Farm Corporate Law. “State Farm continues to explain its position to regulators about why it does not present systemic risk to the U.S. financial system and why we think existing suitability guidelines provide appropriate consumer protections for securities sold through broker-dealers and their registered representatives.”
Federal Optional Charter: “State Farm believes this new legislation represents a sound framework for insurance regulatory reform,” says Steve. “We’ll pursue rate modernization efforts in states where we have an opportunity to let the competitive market determine appropriate price levels as opposed to the costly, inefficient and often politicized process of prior approval rate regulation.” January 2011 Reflector
This is an important election year and as you all can see, read and hear politics is a hot topic and Minnesota is at the epicenter of a lot of activity. All the MN House, one MN State Senate seat, both national Senate Seats, all 8 National House District seats up as well as the Governor and the Attorney General’s seat are up for grabs. Money is flowing in from near and far and an unheard of amount is being spent all across the electoral spectrum! A lot is at stake in our state and the money is flowing into campaigns by the millions! It is really important that we all get out and vote not only this fall but in the primary coming up next Tuesday! Voter turnout for a primary is sometimes quite low but this year we all have to energize and encourage everyone to vote.
Here is a little rundown we put together with our legislative team:
Jeff Johnson is the GOP endorsed candidate for Governor and current Hennepin County Commissioner. He has spent 16 years in state and local government. He was GOP governor nominee in 2014 against Governor Dayton.
Tim Pawlenty is the former two-term governor, having left the office in 2011. Most recently served as President and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable, which State Farm is an active and participating member. Leadership of this advocacy group serves our industry well. Pawlenty has been the chief fund raiser among all candidates in the race.
Erin Murphy is the DFL endorsed candidate for Governor. She is a six-term State Representative from St. Paul with a former career in nursing.
Tom Waltz is six-term southern U.S. Minnesota congressman. He was a public school teacher in Mankato and also served in the National Guard.
Loris Swanson has served for the last 12 years as MN Attorney General and was a surprise late entrant to the race following the DFL state convention.
Former State Representative Doug Wardlow is the party’s endorsed candidate. He is being challenged by former DFL State Senator Bob Lessard and frequent candidate Sharon Anderson
Matt Pelikan is a first-time candidate who won the DFL endorsement in June.
Keith Ellison has served in the U. S. House of Representatives since 2007. Gained notoriety as the first Muslim elected to Congress. Deputy chair of Democratic National Committee.
Tom Foley served as Ramsey County attorney from 1979-1994. Foley was an unsuccessful candidate for U. S. Senate in 1994.
Debra Hilstrom was first elected to the Minnesota House in 2000. Lead Democrat on the public safety committee and former Brooklyn Center City Council member.
Mike Rothman served as commerce commissioner in Governor Dayton’s administration since 2011. Truth be known he was frequently at odds with the insurance industry and our relationship with the Commerce Department is at an all-time low!
One race to fill Senator Fischbach’s seat which will determine control of the Senate. Michelle Fischbach is running for Lt. Governor on the Pawlenty ticket. Important race to keep the Minnesota Senate under the majority for Senator Paul Gazelka! Senator Gazelka has a keen knowledge of business in general and of course the insurance business.
All 134 House seats are up for grabs. Speaker Kurt Daudt has a 20 seat majority and quite frankly it’s important to our industry that Speaker Daudt retains his majority. He has been very helpful to our industry on important matters.
If you recall the last session we had several major issues come up that our grassroots legislative contacts, our government affairs and our organization helped to stop at the committee level. Remember our goal is to promote good legislation and try to stop or amend bad legislation. The outcome of this primary and the election will be huge for us to continue to conduct our business and service our policyholders throughout the state in a positive manner consistent with good business practices. Please click on the August Spotlight written by Sonia O’Brien to give a little more insight to this year’s election!
So……Please get out and vote in the primary and then of course the general election this is an important one for our industry!!
2016 Legislative Update
The 2016 Minnesota Legislative Session saw a troubling new trend in negative proposals being offered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
Perhaps the most significant was a bill the Department called The Automobile Insurance Affordability Act of 2016, which was copied almost word for word from California’s Proposition 103, which first passed in 1988. The Minnesota bill was part of a larger package of bills generated by Governor Mark Dayton and his administration dealing with economic disparity statewide.
The bill would have forced a retroactive 20% across the board rate reduction and another 20% reduction for ‘good drivers’ without any actuarial justification. The bill would have also required insurers to only use three underwriting factors in setting rates: length of driving history, number of miles driven and the applicant’s driving record. And the bill would have required the Commissioner to approve any rate changes prior to their use and would not have allowed insurers to raise rates unless the Commissioner determined the insurer was threatened with insolvency.
The bill would also have required a Commerce Department study to analyze auto insurance premiums in selected low and moderate income ZIP codes to determine the impact of non-driving related factors on auto premium setting.
The bill is troubling in many ways. First it is modeled after a failed, 1980s-era law in California that is seen by many experts as a major disappointment. While rates did temporarily drop after Proposition 103, there were other major reforms, including significant tort reform, which worked more effectively to lower premiums. Minnesota’s auto insurance market is much different than California and this bill would have a major disruptive effect on the marketplace here.
The bill also unfairly penalizes young, rural and suburban drivers who drive more miles but in a less risky environment than drivers in the core metro area who drive shorter distances but who also face far higher risks.
And the change in rate setting protocols and underwriting factors will cause upheaval in the current marketplace, giving significant discounts to drivers who don’t deserve them and causing price spikes for drivers who would be good risks using modern underwriting tools. With fewer carriers selling in the state and a great deal of uncertainty about future losses, more policyholders would be forced to buy coverage from the state’s seller of last resort, the Assigned Risk Plan, which has premiums that are far higher than what the marketplace provides.
The insurance industry did an excellent job keeping this highly negative bill from gaining traction in the 2016 session, primarily by leveraging the power of having Republican control of the House of Representatives and by having an excellent working relationship with then Senate Commerce Committee Chair Jim Metzen, who sadly passed away this summer.
With a new incoming chair of the Senate Commerce Committee and with uncertainty as to who will control the House, we know that Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman and Governor Mark Dayton plan to aggressively pursue the bill again in the 2017 Session.
Excerpt from the MN Insurance Federation, October 2016
2015 Legislative Update
Are we making progress” & “What does the PAC do”?
As the 2015 Legislative session just finished we thought we would give you an update and answer questions that we are frequently asked. “Are we making progress” and “What does the PAC do”? We hope to answer those questions in this brief update.
The purpose of the PAC (when we were asked by SF management to start it here in Minnesota) was to leverage our agency force across the state to organize into a grass roots group to build relationships with elected officials and those running for office. When topics come up at the legislature that impact our business the relationships we formed would give us an open door to discuss the matters with elected officials. To try to meet with a legislator or state leader when issues come up without any previous contact or relationship does not work, especially with a complex business like insurance.
One of the ways we support these legislators is by contributing to their campaigns. We contribute to individual campaigns and to both DFL and GOP caucuses. We want to elect and support people that are pro-business and are open to discussion about matters relating to our industry and the impact of same. By making a financial contribution to their campaign we are showing our support and again are working on relationship building.
Some years there are upwards of 3,000 bills that are introduced by legislators. It is impossible for our elected officials to be experts on every bill. Our job is to help to educate them on bills that affect our business. A complete explanation includes how and what the passing or not passing a bill will impact our policyholders and our industry. Many bills are single issue bills that are requested by a certain group that aims to legislate an issue they are interested in. Many of these bills don’t make it any further than the introduction. However, many other bills are introduced and then afforded a hearing in conference committees. There are those bills that are both helpful and harmful to our industry.
A few recent examples: In the previous session a bill was introduced to add a small surcharge to every auto and homeowners policy in Minnesota. The purpose of the bill was to generate revenue to help bail out the retirement funds for police and fire departments in Minnesota. Those funds were underwater and some legislators thought a surcharge would help to offset the large investment losses and generous benefits these retirement funds offered but could not afford. While the initial surcharge was not that large, our concern was all of sudden our premiums would include a revenue stream for the state that no doubt would increase with time. Also, it did not make sense that only homeowners would pay the surcharge, not renters or owners of condos/townhomes.
Another bill introduced this year was by an out-state Senator and backed by certain members of the body shop industry. This bill was written in such a manner that it would have eliminated auto insurance repair thru DRP (Direct Repair Program). This would
have been a real set back to our claims system. It would have added huge costs to our claims systems and more work for our agent’s offices. All the efforts to increase the efficiency of our claims service would be voided as our Select Service Program would be seen as a violation of this law.
In these examples (in addition to our management/claims employees and our lobbyist partners) the members of the PAC made a huge impact in the defeat of these bills. We sent letters and emails to agents asking them to contact their legislature. Mike and I met with Senate and House leaders several times discussing the impact of both of these bills. We met with leaders of both sides of the aisle and because of our strong relationships were able have serious discussions. In both of these cases the bills were either defeated or never made it out of committees. Thank you to those who made the calls!
Behind the scenes, our claims employees have also worked to help No-fault reforms and Fair Claims issues move thru the process. In these cases, changes in the law have benefitted our industry.
We want and need to be at the table to help with the crafting and passage of good legislation and to stop or correct bad legislation from passing. There are more and more groups out there who want changes in the P & C industry or want to take a piece of our premium pie.
If you are in the PAC we thank you for your participation. Those who are members have given tremendous financial support! If you are a young agent things can change fast and your participation will help you insure your future. If you are not involved please give serious thought to joining. Does it make sense to help to protect your career?