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The Massachusetts Insurance Federation (MIF) and the national property/casualty insurance trade associations achieved a long-standing objective when Governor Deval Patrick signed into law on January 14, 2011 a bill providing for an exclusion under the Massachusetts statutory Standard Fire Policy for acts of terrorism. The law -- Chapter 462 of the Acts of 2010 -- takes effect on April 13, 2011.

The long history of getting this legislation signed into law is instructive. It shows how difficult it is getting any legislation -- even a bill like this without any organized opposition -- through the Legislature and signed into law.

The original version of the legislation was filed for the 2005-2006 legislative session. It was reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Financial Services in November 2005 but was not approved by the House until July 2006. The Senate gave its approval in August 2006. The Governor, however, returned the bill with amendments later that month, and the session ended without the amendments being considered.

In the 2007-2008 session, the bill was once again favorably reported by the Joint Committee on Financial Services, but this time for some unknown reason it was sent to the House Ways & Means Committee. In the previous session, the bill had not been sent to Ways & Means, which is often used as a place for legislation to die a quiet death. Despite our efforts, we could not get the bill out of Ways & Means and it died there.

There were more twists and turns on the road to the legislation becoming law in the 2009-2010 session. The bill was once again reported favorably by the Joint Committee on Financial Services, but not until March 2010. The full House gave its blessing in June. The Senate, however, decided on its own to amend the bill and gave its approval on July 30, and the bill received final approval from both branches on July 31, the last day of formal proceedings for the 2009-2010 session. The Patrick Administration did not agree with the Senate-amended version and sent the bill back to the Legislature with its own amendments in August. We pushed hard during the informal meetings of the Legislature to get the Governor’s amendments adopted and were finally successful on January 4, 2011, the final day of the session.

In all, it took six years to get this relatively modest and non-controversial proposal to become law, with three hearings by the Joint Committee on Financial Services, final approval by the House and Senate on three occasions and two separate sets of proposed amendments by different Governors. It is also worth noting that during all the formal consideration of the legislation by the House and Senate in formal sessions, there was never any debate on it or opposition expressed. It is often very difficult to get a bill to become law.