Texas Rep.’s Disaster-Related Bills Include Insurance Changes

January 15, 2007

State Representative Joe Deshotel (Beaumont) on Jan. 12 filed a package of six bills with the Texas Legislature, many of which relate to disaster recovery and would make changes to residential property insurance policies and windstorm coverage from the Texas Winstorm Insurance Association, the Texas House of Representatives reported.

“I think that it is important for us to focus on things that came up during Hurricane Rita and since. This package includes responses to both disaster issues and recovery efforts,” said Deshotel.

The bills include:

HB 579 Emergency Evacuation Coverage – This bill allows consumers the opportunity to receive an emergency evacuation daily allowance under residential property insurance policies for certain losses incurred because of compliance with an emergency evacuation order.

“In the past, some companies state that a person’s property is livable but the surrounding area is still under evacuation and won’t compensate the homeowner. This bill would change that in some circumstances,” Deshotel stated.

HB 582 Orange County Windstorm Coverage – This will give Orange County residents the ability to receive coverage by the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association as a Tier 1 county. While filed before, this bill includes a “grandfather clause” to exempt structures built before January 2008 from a required inspection.

HB 583 Supplemental 2-1-1 Funding – Requires that any surplus money from the Universal Service Fund go to finance the Texas Information and Referral Network (or 2-1-1). 2-1-1- is a helpful and vital service, but was scaled back during the budget crisis in 2003.

HB 584 Texas Bootstrap Program – This bill would expand or eliminate existing requirements in the program to account for cost increases, generally and in disaster zones specifically. It would also tie the loan amounts to a governmental index and modify the “sweat equity” requirement. “I am confident that we will be able to effect change,” said Deshotel.

Representative Deshotel filed an additional two pieces of legislation. Said Deshotel, “One has been filed previously, but with seniority and an additional focus by the AFL-CIO we hope to get it further than it’s ever been. The other bill will remove unintended consequences from a bill filed previously.” Those bills include:

HB 580 Unemployment Alternative Base Periods – Changes the Unemployment Insurance to use the alternative base period for computation of unemployment compensation benefits.

HB 581 Newspaper Delivery – This will allow 14 year olds to obtain employment by selling newspapers. This bill marks the return of the “paper boy.”

Source: Texas House of Representatives

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