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May 11, 2009

Texas Speaker Pro Tem Requests Amendments to 'Sunset' Bill

This past weekend, Texas House Speaker Pro Tem Craig Eiland requested several amendments to the Senate's recently approved "Sunset Commission" bill, CSSB 1007, which does not include several anti-competition amendments pursued by Senate Democrats.

Eiland's proposed amendments include:

  • Moving from an appointed insurance commissioner to an elected insurance commissioner;
  • Returning to prior approval of homeowner’s insurance rates; and
  • A ban on the use of credit-based insurance scoring.

According to local advocates, inclusion of the amendments is motivated by the belief by House Democrats that the Senate did not fully debate insurance issues that they believe require attention. It is also worth noting that Rep. Eiland chaired the NCOIL committee that adopted the Insurance Scoring model back in 2002.

The bill will be debated on the House floor on or before May 19. The Texas legislative session concludes on May 31.

Texas state law requires that each state agency be assessed and reviewed every 12 years to determine if that agency should continue to exist. Last year, the Texas Sunset Commission released its findings on the Texas Department of Insurance. A primary recommendation of the commission relates to the current file/use statute for homeowner’s insurance. The current statute is unclear and provides little guidance to insurers regarding timelines for the approval or disapproval of rates. CSSB 1007 includes language that would include a 30-day “deemer” for rate approval. If TDI has “good cause,” it can extend the period for approval by an additional 30 days.

NAMIC members are urged to contact their members of the Texas House of Representatives and express your objection to these amendments.

Background documents on insurance scoring and an elected insurance commissioner are included.

NAMIC will actively work with the Texas Association of Business and local advocates to defeat language that would be counterproductive to enhancing competition in Texas.

Direct questions to NAMIC's Director of State Affairs Joe Thesing.