BEFORE PA. SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
RE: S. B. 570 - Formation of a Commerce Court of Pennsylvania
The steps taken by Senator Greenleaf and his colleagues, Senators Hart, Afflerbach, Holl, Musto, Salvatore, Schwartz, Tomlinson and Wenger in introducing Senate Bill 570 are exemplary in many levels on which I would like to briefly touch.
As early as 1792, the Insurance Company of North America, (INA), the oldest subsidiary of the CIGNA Companies, and a name familiar to this region, was formed as the oldest stock insurance company and first marine insurance company in the United States. In 1794, the Pennsylvania legislature approved incorporation of the INA, authorizing the writing of marine, fire and life insurance. Later that year INA issued fire policy #1 on German dry-goods in a house in Philadelphia making it the first American company to insure the contents of a building against fire. Since those colonial days, INA and the other companies in the CIGNA family have grown to provide insurance protection on property or for casualty, financial services and health and life protection as well as direct healthcare services for millions of individuals and businesses alike. Our region of service now spans beyond Philadelphia to every continent in the world. Our international headquarters remain in the Commonwealth as does those of many of our policyholders. We are precious resources for the life of this state.
Today, CIGNA maintains over twenty-five offices in the Commonwealth, with approximately 5,800 Pennsylvania employees and a payroll exceeding $385 million. Investment in the state exceeds $1.1 billion and taxes, exclusive of real estate taxes, are approximately $33.5 million.
Due to daily advances in telecommunications and technology we live in an ever-shrinking universe. Business is not conducted in the same way it was just ten years ago. As business and industry continue to function in a volatile economy, companies may need to make hard choices and relocate where economies are more inviting. Modern technology supports the mobility of company operations, a reality you as legislators, I'm sure, acknowledge. CIGNA, like many companies represented here today, are linked to Pennsylvania by choice, not by technological or operational limitations.
The establishment of a court dedicated to thoughtful and expedited resolution of business disputes will be strong evidence of the Commonwealth's interest in attracting and retaining business. There would evolve from such a court a body of corporate and commercial law which would control all facets of the operation of business within the Commonwealth. This would provide much needed clarity and progressive direction on the laws of corporate governance for existing businesses. Certainty on certain key corporate legal issues would, as well, be a driving consideration for foreign and emerging businesses in bringing or keeping operations in the state. This scenario creates a win-win situation for all the state's citizens in terms of employment opportunities, tax revenue, and judicial economy. The list goes on and on.
A Commerce Court would counter the negative effects of protracted litigation which drains resources on every front and thwarts growth opportunities of businesses. The allocation of business disputes to the Commerce Court would enable our state civil justice systems to handle matters involving criminal acts or cases of personal injury, workers' compensation, domestic relations, etc., more ably and, where appropriate, as priority matters.
From an economic growth perspective, the establishment of a Commerce Court in Pennsylvania makes good sense. We have had the benefit of seeing from our neighboring State of Delaware that a judicial system which contemplates the specialized needs of business fosters business development and growth within its borders. Several other states including Illinois, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin are joining Delaware in responding to the needs of business for an established body of law, and fair and expeditious resolution of disputes by creating dedicated courts, similar to the proposed Commerce Court. Pennsylvania will reap the maximum benefits from such a court only if it is in the forefront of states addressing this business concern.
CIGNA supports the formation of a Commerce Court in Pennsylvania to promote and attract new business, maintain and grow existing businesses and advocate for a cost-effective administration of justice. This program will not be the silver bullet to accelerate economic growth in the state. However, as a major tool in the full repertoire of programs for business development and growth, it will serve as an integral part. We applaud the efforts being made here to recognize the need for particularized treatment of complex commercial matters and welcome this initiative as a first step to an effective Commerce Court with all the appropriate authority and jurisdiction. Once set in motion, CIGNA endorses expansion of the Court's jurisdiction to other business-to-business matters so that the vitality and innovation of the program keeps pace with the ever-evolving business needs of Pennsylvania's corporate citizens.
Senators, Thank you for your time and attention.