Group Says California Has Not Dropped Uninsured Motorist Initiative

March 14, 2008

Consumer advocacy and public policy reserach group The Greenlining Institute is questioning whether California Commissioner Steve Poizner made a “masked attempt to target the poor.”

According to a letter sent to the Commissioner’s office today, the group criticized Poizner for confirming to members of the media that he would be dropping a ballot initiative seeking to strip license plates from uninsured, working poor drivers, yet for not having done so. The group also said Poizner claimed he would forcus efforts on improving the state’s Low Cost Auto Insurance Program, but also has not done so.

“As of March 14, the Secretary of State reports you still have not formally withdrawn your ballot initiative targeting uninsured, working poor drivers,” the group wrote. “At the same time, you called for an April 9th hearing on Low Cost Auto Insurance without notifying Greenlining. You did not notify us despite our repeated attempts to inform you of the Low Cost Auto Insurance Program’s failure to sign up 99 percent of uninsured drivers.”

Poizner’s actions give the impression that his stated intention to get more drivers insured is only masking an attempt to target the uninsured at a later time, the group said.

“We hope that the delay in withdrawing the initiative is not due to your desire to qualify this anti-consumer, anti-immigrant ballot initiative in the future. Greenlining thus urges you to formally withdraw this ballot initiative from the Secretary of State immediately,” the Institute added.

The Low Cost Auto Insurance Program, designed to help low-income individuals purchase low-cost auto insurance, has a low participation rate, according to the Institute. The program has failed to sign up 99 percent of California’s uninsured drivers, according to its figures. As such, the advocacy group wants to address reasons for the program’s failures and possible solutions to help save the program.

The group is asking Poizner to postpone a public hearing scheduled for April until June, to garner more participation and input from the public to address the issue. “Calling for a substitute hearing in June will allow for sufficient advance notice so that Greenlining and other consumer groups can help you reach a broader audience,” the group said. “We would be happy to help you garner a better attended and more effective public hearing on Low Cost Auto Insurance. However, you must call for a new, substitute hearing for June 2008 in order to do so. Also, we again stress that you must formally withdraw your ballot initiative from the Secretary of State immediately. Otherwise, any hearings that you may call on Low Cost Auto Insurance would likely be seen as a masked attempt to target rather than help the uninsured.”

Source: The Greenlining Institute

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