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UC San Diego structural engineers are assessing results from a shake test done to a modern five-story building resembling a medical facility with an intensive care unit, operating room and elevator. The $5 million project was funded by government agencies, foundations and others to find out what happens inside such a building during an earthquake instead of focusing on the structure itself. Findings are expected to be published next year. >> State Supreme Court clarifies rules on meal and rest breaks for workers in a class action case against Brinker Intl. The court ruled that employers need only provide breaks, not ensure that workers take them. The high court added that workers need to be relieved of duties during those times, meaning managers cannot under-staff so that employees feel compelled to skip breaks. The court set clear guidelines for number and timing of breaks, which was desperately needed since there has been a flood of lawsuits on the issue and many settlements based on companies’ uncertainty about the law. >> Tubing that carries radioactive water at the San Onofre nuclear power plant is deteriorating at an unusually high rate, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Two reactors have already been sidelined as a result. The steam generators, which the tubes serve, were made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The reactors could be off line throughout the summer, when power demands surge. >> State Senate considering bill imposing new limits on stop-loss insurance for small businesses. S.B. 1431 would ban stop-loss coverage below $95,000 per worker.

Now allows formation of captive insurance companies, including single-parent captives, special-purpose captive, industrial insurance captives, and captive reinsurance companies. Effective July 1. >> Florida Surplus Lines Service Office to serve as central clearinghouse provider for collection and allocation of surplus lines premium tax payments for multi-state surplus lines policies under Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act for members of the Nonadmitted Insurance Multi-state Agreement (NIMA). It will also serve as technology platform provider. Clearinghouse will begin receiving filings for policies issued or renewed on or after July 1, 2012. >> Jerry Wahl, president of Vero Beach’s Statewide Condominium Insurance agency, is seeking 100,000 signatures to protest a FEMA decision that vacates a 1996 agreement with flood agents in Florida that allows them to rebate commissions on policies underwritten by NFIP. Wahl says FEMA’s move violates Florida law and increases costs for Florida’s condo and apartment complexes. >> Gov. Rick Scott vetoes tax credit program that would have allowed insurers and financial institutions to purchase tax credits to shore up Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. The idea had negative implications for the state’s credit rating and would have allowed the first borrowing of funds directly from the state’s coffers. (May’s issue incorrectly stated that the governor didn’t have the line-item veto.)www.floir.com

EPA has approved cleanup plan for Superfund site at former FMC phosphorus production plant on Shoshone-Bannock Indian Reservation, where capped ponds still produce phosphine gas that stinks and can damage respiratory, nervous and gastrointestinal systems as well as internal organs.

New federal flood rate maps in effect in Livingston Parish. >> Becomes first state to share Insurance Department data with federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a move that should take a bite out of insurance fraud.

Bill reforming state workers comp system sent to Gov. Paul LePage for signature. Eliminates requirement that benefits be paid during an appeal; creates new appellate division that can adopt procedural rules for appeals process; presumes workers under Workers Compensation Board-ordered rehab are ineligible to work during convalescence; puts 10-year cap on benefits for workers permanently impaired with partial incapacity; reduces time workers have to notify employers of injuries; and decreases maximum benefit for injury to 66% of gross weekly wages, down from 80%. Some grandfathering clauses apply. >> FEMA updating flood hazard maps for the coast from Kittery to Belfast. Changes will have a significant effect on coastal properties, many of which haven’t seen an update since 1970. Map revisions for Hancock and Washington County aren’t funded.

Legislature sends bill to Gov. Martin O’Malley that would allow state insurance regulators to seek civil penalties against convicted fraudsters. The state would be able to impose fines and pursue restitution to recoup investigative expenses.

State law imposing cap on jury awards of non-economic damages declared unconstitutional. Case, in which a jury awarded $6 million in non-economic damages (cap is $1 million), is expected to go to Supreme Court. A query in a different case addressing caps on non-economic damages is pending before the Supreme Court.

Senate backs creation of panel to analyze whether to sell, privatize or restructure Missouri Employers Mutual, the state-sponsored workers comp insurer.

Awards Cigna contract to administer state employee health plan. It will take over in January 2013 from New West Health Services and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana. New West is leaving the commercial insurance business.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska sues to block state’s switch to United Healthcare as administrator of state health insurance plan. BC/BS has been administrator for almost 30 years and says United Healthcare illegally lobbied for the change.

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