(h/t Alan at Yall for the link). Yesterday, thanks to the C-L story on the topic of multiperil insurance we found Mississippi’s own Rep Greg Harper has signed on to Gene’s bill joining Travis Childers as co-sponsors of HR 1264. Bennie Thompson has yet to sign on. Looking at the list of co sponsors at Gene’s congressional website we find a very diverse group of people (just like here at slabbed) in support of the multi peril concept. In addition to the newest announcements we see conservatives such as NOLA area Republican Rep Steve Scalise to Democratic Representatives Alcee Hastings and Sheila Jackson Lee have also signed on to HR 1264.
Over the past two years I’ve met, shook hands and briefly conversed with more US House members than I can remember at Gene’s Bay St Louis town hall meetings. Two from last year that came to the Bay and “talked a good game” were New York’s Steve Israel and Connecticut’s John Larson. For the slabbed it is put up or shut up time and we’re paying attention to the House members that sign up and the ones who talk a good game. We’re also paying attention to our own US Senator Roger Wicker who appears to be doing a tap dance instead of working this issue from the Senate side. Deborah Barfield has the Clarion Ledger story:
Banking on public outrage against insurance companies, 4th District Rep. Gene Taylor says his bill to add wind coverage to the federal flood-insurance program stands a better shot at passage this Congress.
“I would think that if there is ever a time to convince our fellow congressmen to rein in this industry, it’s now,” said Taylor, a Democrat.
Taylor reintroduced a bill this month that would expand the federal flood-insurance program to include wind coverage, which supporters say is important to homeowners in areas hit by hurricanes.
The bill, called the Multiple Peril Insurance Act, would allow homeowners who buy federal flood insurance to also purchase wind coverage.
Taylor said he expects more attention will be paid to his bill this year because lawmakers are upset that American International Group gave $165 million in employee bonuses after receiving more than $180 billion in a government bailout of the financial services industry. The House passed a bill Thursday that would impose a tax of 90 percent of those bonuses.
“I see the screwup at AIG as something that should help us,” Taylor said.
Edward Libby, AIG’s chief executive officer, headed Allstate Corp. during the company’s disputes with homeowners over Hurricane Katrina insurance claims.
“As they were denying claims in south Mississippi, the executives were giving themselves million-dollar bonuses,” said Taylor, adding Mississippi has a “four-year head start” on outrage against AIG officials.
Taylor said his effort also could be bolstered by timing. Hurricane season starts in June, and experts are predicting an active one. He also said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is considering including the proposal in legislation to renew the National Flood Insurance Program.
The program offers federally backed flood insurance to homeowners, renters and businesses in flood-prone and coastal areas. The program offers more-affordable insurance in thousands of communities.
Insurance industry officials are gearing up again to help defeat Taylor’s measure. The House passed a flood-insurance bill last year that included his provision. It failed in the Senate, where there was much opposition.
The last paragraph is factually correct. Left out of course is that last year the Multiperil bill passed the House with much support. Speaker Pelosi is committed to our cause. Even better I see her having some political staying power where our main Senate opponent, $enator Chri$ Dodd’s political star is strictly of the crash and burn variety of late. Of course the shills at AIA are still parroting old Bush era throw away lines about a mythical private coastal wind insurance market as the story continues:
“We feel that since the private market is already writing this insurance, there’s adequate coverage to protect homeowners rather than place the additional burden on a program that’s already in dire financial straits,” said Blain Rethmeier, spokesman for the American Insurance Association, a trade group.
Industry officials said states already provide adequate wind coverage. They also noted the National Flood Insurance Program is already strapped.
“The financial situation at NFIP has not changed,” Rethmeier said.
Taylor has been trying to change the program since Katrina struck in 2005 and insurance companies denied wind-damage claims filed by many victims on the Gulf Coast, including him.
Industry officials argued much of the damage was not caused by wind but by floods.
Some Republicans complained that under Taylor’s bill, the government would be stuck paying the insurance claims of homeowners who knowingly live in high-risk areas along the Coast.
The Bush administration also had threatened to veto Taylor’s insurance measure, saying taxpayers would be shouldering the cost for people who decide to live in high-risk places.
Still, Taylor is lobbying his colleagues. Early last week, the measure had 16 co-sponsors, including three Republicans. Democratic 1st District Rep. Travis Childers said he signed on to the bill “to help hard-working families who are victims of floods overcome these natural disasters.”
Third District Rep. Gregg Harper, a Republican, signed on as a co-sponsor Thursday, saying he was glad to lend support and work “together to advance this legislation that is very important to the people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
There is no Senate version of the bill. However, last year, Republican Sen. Thad Cochran co-sponsored an amendment that would have added wind coverage to the flood-insurance program.
Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican, is talking with experts about what steps to take on the issue, said Jordan Stoick, a spokesman for Wicker.
“Sen. Wicker understands that this isn’t just an issue that should be focused on each August and September during hurricane season,” Stoick said. “He is committed to finding a lasting solution to the insurance problem – an issue he understands is critical to fully rebuilding the Gulf Coast from Katrina.”
Hopefully one of the experts Senator Wicker is seeking out includes Brian Martin in addition to State Farm and big business groups like the AIA. Might I be so bold as to recommend the good Senator consult with businessmen from the coast that have become expert risk managers out of necessity AND who have managed to survive without TARP and other government handouts like George Schloegel or Dave Dennis. Or he could take his chances with the coast when he shows on the ballot again in a few years.