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Wednesday, 05 September 2007

House Bill 1038 by Representative Allan Ritter
House Bill 1038 gives the Texas Residential Construction Commission some enforcement authority and expands the list of violations for which builders may be disciplined.  Additionally, it prohibits building industry lobbyists from serving as TRCC commissioners.  This is a marginal improvement; however, much more needs to be done to ensure that homeowners have the ability to hold a bad builder fully accountable.

 

New Laws Expand Consumer Protections

When the Texas Legislature met earlier this year, they passed thousands of new state laws for Texans.  As of September 1, 2007, these laws became effective.  Texas Watch worked on legislation to improve protections for policyholders, patients, and other consumers.  As you can see from the handful of new laws highlighted below, consumers can count on some improvements.  There is still much more work to do.  At Texas Watch, we are already preparing for the next legislative session, which will begin in January 2009.  With your help, we’ll be able to build on our success. 

Senate Bill 978 by Senator Kirk Watson
Senate Bill 978 allows policyholders to file a legitimate claim once every three years without fear of being penalized by their insurance company.  This means that homeowners can actually use the policy they have paid for without worrying that their insurance company will increase their rates or drop them altogether.

House Bill 3358 by Representative John Smithee
House Bill 3358 prohibits an insurer that is in the process of appealing an order to lower its rates from increasing its rates until the appeal is complete.  This will help ensure that homeowners do not see additional rate hikes from companies whose rates are already excessive.

Senate Bill 611 by Senator Eddie Lucio
Since the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) allows homeowners insurance companies to offer policies with widely varying levels of coverage, consumers have not been able to shop on price alone.  This law makes it easier for consumers to shop for insurance policies by requiring side-by-side comparisons of different coverages, prices, complaint data, enforcement actions, financial ratings, and other factors.  TDI is also required to reorganize its website to make it more consumer-friendly.

House Bill 2551 by Representative Todd Smith
House Bill 2551 allows the insurance commissioner to charge insurers interest on refunds of excessive rates to consumers.  This will serve as a strong deterrent to insurers against charging excessive rates in the first place. 

House Bill 1038 by Representative Allan Ritter
House Bill 1038 gives the Texas Residential Construction Commission some enforcement authority and expands the list of violations for which builders may be disciplined.  Additionally, it prohibits building industry lobbyists from serving as TRCC commissioners.  This is a marginal improvement; however, much more needs to be done to ensure that homeowners have the ability to hold a bad builder fully accountable.

Senate Bill 288 by Senator Jane Nelson
Infections associated with health care account for an estimated two million infections and 90,000 deaths annually in the United States and cost approximately $4.5 billion per year.  Senate Bill 288 requires hospitals to report infections that patients develop while hospitalized.  This reporting will likely result in improved care by hospitals as they seek to lower their infection rates.  Additionally, public disclosure will give patients more information to use in selecting a safe hospital.

For more information on the major legislation passed during the 80th Legislative Session, read the report by the House Research Organization.  Feel free to contact us if we can ever be of assistance.  Also, we are planning some new and exciting ways for you to engage in the political process.  Stay tuned. 

 

 
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Reckless Endangerment
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Outsized Ambition, Greed and
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