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February 20, 2003    (512) 463-0300

Senate Makes Progress on Insurance Legislation

Austin - Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst said that he is proud of the prompt action taken by the Senate today in unanimously concurring with the amendments added by the House to Senate Bill (SB) 310. The bill requires insurers in Texas to file their rates and supporting data with the commissioner of insurance on a one-time basis. One amendment clarifies that only insurers with a five percent or more share of the residential property insurance market must file. The other amendments require insurers to explain underwriting guidelines and to disclose their losses in investments in the stock market.

Although it will be about thirty days before they will have the official numbers from the insurance companies, Dewhurst said that the commissioner promised them a preliminary report in several weeks. "I'm hoping that when we get the data back from (SB) 310, it's going to show that rates are high, that a roll back is warranted," said Senator Troy Fraser from Horseshoe Bay, chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. Fraser said that he hopes to pass a whole set of bills to correct the problem and bring down rates. "Whether we look at a rate making procedure or we're looking at a roll back, we all want to see homeowner insurance rates be as low as possible here in the state," said Dewhurst.

The Business and Commerce Committee heard continued testimony on homeowners insurance rates today, including representatives from the Association for the Advancement of Retired Persons, an organization that supports the insurance regulations.

In other news, the Senate Finance unanimously passed out of committee SB 15, sponsored by Senator Frank Madla of San Antonio. Madla's bill authorizes the Texas Department of Economic Development to grant $15 million to build a secondary rail line in South Bexar County for the new Toyota plant.

The Senate was amongst royalty in today's session when Miss America Erika Harold made an appearance for her twenty-third birthday. Today was also Arlington Senator Chris Harris's birthday. Senate Resolution 199 was passed to wish him a happy fifty-fifth birthday.

The Senate will reconvene Monday, February 24, 2003, at 1:30 p.m.

Session video and all other webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's audio and video archive pages.

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