Action Needed by Tues., May 22 - Senate Committee Seeks to Strip Insurance Commissioner of Authority

URGENT ACTION NEEDED:

You may recall a previous entry of mine here on BlueNC regarding SB 901 filed earlier this legislative session. Well, immediate action is needed because the Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to take up the bill this coming Tuesday, May 22nd at 11 a.m. in Raleigh. With the "crossover" deadline looming only 2 days later, any thing could happen ... and that is very, very dangerous for consumers and payers of insurance premiums here in North Carolina.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Long has asked me to challenge EVERY BlueNC reader and believer to do 2 things: (1) read the following summary of what the bill does; and (2) email, fax, and/or call every member of the Senate Commerce Committee before 9 a.m. on Tues., May 22nd.

First, here is the summary:

If SB 901 passes, then insurance companies will be able to file and use higher insurance rates automatically. If SB 901 had been in place in 2006, then insurance companies would have been able to charge homeowners in eastern and coastal NC up to a 125% increase in homeowners insurance premiums.

If SB 901 passes, then the "burden of proof" - a powerful legal concept - will be moved from the insurance companies seeking rate increases to the Insurance Commissioner instead. What that means is that the Insurance Commissioner will have to prove that insurance rate hikes are unreasonable and excessive, etc., instead of insurance companies having the burden to prove why they should charge higher rates.

If SB 901 passes, then it will remove the limitations for automobile and workers' comp rate filings: Those insurance companies will be able to make multiple rate filings and rate hikes in one calendar year.

If SB 901 passes, then the filed rates will go into effect immediately and would remain effective unless the Commissioner disputes the filing and a special Superior Court judge agrees with the Commissioner.

If SB 901 passes, then the rate-setting authority will be shifted to a Special Superior Court Judge in Wake County and away from an Insurance Commissioner elected Statewide.

If SB 901 passes, then a judge unfamiliar with the technical, complexities of insurance rate-setting - and without sufficient staff - will hear insurance rate-setting cases instead of the Commissioner of Insurance and his bevy of independent specialists working in the NC Department of Insurance.

If SB 901 passes, then you are guaranteed that your automobile insurance rates will go up. Why? NC already enjoys being the 5th lowest in auto insurance premiums in the country. With SB 901 there is no where to go but higher premiums.

If SB 901 passes, then insurance companies will even benefit from a new enormous windfall in the millions of dollars: Instead of having to refund excessive premiums to North Carolinians from the date the rates were raised by the companies, the insurance companies will only have to refund the amount of monies paid in unfairly since the decision by the Court. That is a huge change that will cost citizens and small businesses millions and millions of dollars.

If SB 901 passes, the Department of Insurance anticipates that workers' compensation premiums for NC small businesses will rise just as quickly as auto insurance.

If SB 901 passes, then it will allow insurance companies to charge rates that are higher than the maximum approved rates.

If SB 901 passes, then we know for certain that homeowners insurance premiums will rise up to 125% because of what insurance companies sought on the coast and in eastern NC in 2006, and based upon the activities of many of those companies in neighboring southern States.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Long believes that our current system works well for consumers and insurance companies. SB 901 benefits ONLY insurance companies.

He asks that you contact members of the Senate Commerce Committee BEFORE 9 a.m. on Tues., May 22nd.

Those Senators are: Soles, chairman; Rand, vice chairman; Hoyle, vice chairman; Apodaca, Doug Berger, Phil Berger, Boseman, Dalton, Dorsett, Foriest, Forrester, Garrou, Goodall, Goss, Graham, Hagan, Hunt, Jacumin, Kerr, Malone, McKissick, Nesbitt, Pittenger, Purcell, Shaw, Stevens.

Tell them you STRONGLY OPPOSE SB 901 and tell them why.

Democrats control the State Senate and the State House and there is no reason for Democrats to be voting in favor of this anti-consumer bill on Tuesday morning, May 22. If they do, and it passes out of committee and out of the Senate, then it will be the proverbial "camel's nose under the tent" ... virtually guaranteeing its passage in some form and prompting similar anti-consumer legislation down the road.

Do consumers and small businesses want or need to change the current system? No, of course not!

Please keep us posted on what you hear in response from legislators. My work email address is wgoodwin@ncdoi.net and my personal email address is wayne@waynegoodwin.org.

Thanks, again, to BlueNC for all it (and its many members and fans) do!

Wayne Goodwin
Assistant Commissioner of Insurance
NC Dept of Insurance
State of North Carolina

Comments

I will later

For those who dont know
Foriest, McKissick and Goss are all new and wont know the issues as well. That means they will be easily ramrodded by the Senate leadership if you dont contact them.
The rest are all big name people with lots of clout. Some of whom would like to get promotions, people like Dalton and Hagan are itching for bigger offices. Let them know what you would think about this.

I will email them when its not midnight to ensure I can think straight.

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

"Keep the Faith"

well

it was still midnight....

but i got an email out to everyone.

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

"Keep the Faith"

Wow. Thanks for the heads up

Medical good guys are getting attacked on all fronts these days.

I'll commit to what you ask. No problem. This sucks.
 
News of the 10th district: See Pat Go Bye Bye,

Good, clear, succinct.

I don't know what the heck is going down in the legislature these days, but it feels a hell of a lot like a corporate coup. Thanks for keeping this issue on our radar.

From all I can see, there's no case that can or has been made for this anti-consumer power play.

Its a long session

and that means they cover everything. I wonder if this year feels crazy because it is, or because we are paying attention?

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

"Keep the Faith"

I think there's a different dynamic

It feels like the social conservatives are feeling testy and under-appreciated, so they're trying to flex their muscles. And businesses are worried that We the Pesky People are gettin' too uppity . . . which is why they're piling on all the anti-democratic crap they can find.

And it looks to me like Tony Rand has sold out, pure and simple. In our legislature, one guy with a power base can do enormous damage. Just look at Black Co.

I just got asked by a county chair

to come to their action committee meeting and talk about using blogging, email, phoning to affect the issues we care about. This is one obvious choice (although it will be too late, I guess). But I'm taking suggestions . . . Blue South? Anglico? Maybe I could make a video or powerpoint . . .
 
News of the 10th district: See Pat Go Bye Bye,

Not too late, DQ ...

If SB 901 passes out of the Senate Commerce Committee on May 22 and goes to the Senate floor for passage on May 23 or 24, then that bill will be percolating over the NC House of Representatives for the next 6 weeks. Thus, it will not be too late for the "action committee" you referenced to do its thing. Of course, my hope and prayer - reflective of similar hopes and prayers of others opposed to SB 901 - is that the bill will die in committee on Tuesday. Given who is involved with the legislation and how much "juice" is being put behind this bill, we must be prepared to do battle against it in the House.

I Have The Cheat Sheet

For all the Commerce Members. Let me know if you want it.

Cheat Sheet?

Is that the cheat sheet of those of us who oppose SB 901 or the cheat sheet for the other side? If it is to oppose the bill, let me know if it is the pdf that includes the sample list of organizations who have come out against SB 901 or a different document. The list of groups opposing SB 901 includes the NC AFL-CIO, the State Employees Association of NC (SEANC), the NC Public Interest Research Group (NC PIRG), Woodmen of the World, the NC chapter of AARP, the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers, the NC Justice Center, and a host of Democratic County Conventions and several District Conventions statewide. ... If it is the cheat for the other side (i.e., for those who favor SB 901), then do send it to me please quickly. Thank you!

Not That Kind of Cheat Sheet

It's a Word doc with all the Senators emails & phone numbers in one document so you don't have to hunt.

I did the hunting for you. :)

Thank you, Unique - Please share the "cheat sheet" with ...

... me and others so we can more quickly and easily execute this urgent action item with intensity vis-a-vis the Senators! I had a similar cheat sheet but didn't email it to myself before the weekend. Your help is greatly appreciated! I've had one person already ask me this evening for that info and what you've got will speed things up ...

I forwarded

the version I was sent in case Unique doesnt check back

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

"Keep the Faith"

Got it ...

... and thank you! I have forwarded it on some others who have requested it privately. If it can be posted for everyone then that would certainly help with the process. Have a great night!

Oh, Thanks Blue

I was looking for some ... er ... photoshop ops.

You could make it a post if you think it's a good idea.

lets try

Senator R.C. Soles, Jr.
Office: 2022 Legislative Building
Phone: (919) 733-5963
Email: Rcsoles@ncleg.net

Senator Tony Rand
Office: 300-C Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-9892
Email: Tonyr@ncleg.net

Senator David W. Hoyle
Office: 300-A Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-5734
Email: Davidh@ncleg.net

Senator Tom Apodaca
Office: 1127 Legislative Building
Phone: (919) 733-5745
Email: Toma@ncleg.net

Senator Doug Berger
Office: 622 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 715-8363
Email: Dougb@ncleg.net

Senator Phil Berger
Office: 1026 Legislative Building
Phone: (919) 733-5708
Email: philbe@ncleg.net

Senator Julia Boseman
Office: 309 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 715-2525
Email: Juliab@ncleg.net

Senator Walter H. Dalton
Office: 523 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 715-3038
Email: Walterd@ncleg.net

Senator Katie G. Dorsett
Office: 2106 Legislative Building
Phone: (919) 715-3042
Email: Katied@ncleg.net

Senator Tony Foriest
Office: 332 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 301-1446
Email: Tonyf@ncleg.net

Senator James Forrester
Office: 1129 Legislative Building
Phone: (919) 715-3050
Email: Jamesf@ncleg.net

Senator Linda Garrou
Office: 627 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-5620
Email: Lindag@ncleg.net

Senator W. Edward Goodall
Office: 1414 Legislative Building
Phone: (919) 733-7659
Email: Eddieg@ncleg.net

Senator Steve Goss
Office: 1118 Legislative Building
Phone: (919) 733-5742
Email: Steveg@ncleg.net

Senator Malcolm Graham
Office: 620 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-5650
Email: Malcolmg@ncleg.net

Senator Kay R. Hagan
Office: 411 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-5856
Email: Kayh@ncleg.net

Senator Neal Hunt
Office: 1102 Legislative Building
Phone: (919) 733-5850
Email: Nealh@ncleg.net

Senator Jim Jacumin
Office: 1113 Legislative Building
Phone: (919) 715-7823
Email: Jimja@ncleg.net

Senator John H. Kerr III
Office: 526 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-5621
Email: Johnk@ncleg.net

Senator Vernon Malone
Office: 314 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-5880
Email: Vernonm@ncleg.net

Senator Floyd B. McKissick, Jr.
Office: 314 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-5880
Email: Vernonm@ncleg.net

Senator Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr.
Office: 300-B Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 715-3001
Email: martinn@ncleg.net

Senator Robert Pittenger
Office: 521 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-5655
Email: Robertp@ncleg.net

Senator William R. Purcell
Office: 625 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-5953
Email: Williamp@ncleg.net

Senator Larry Shaw
Office: 311 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-9349
Email: Larrys@ncleg.net

Senator Richard Stevens
Office: 406 Legislative Office Building
Phone: (919) 733-5653
Email: Richards@ncleg.net

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

"Keep the Faith"

McKissick

Here is Floyd's correct e-mail address: Floydm@ncleg.net

I sent him a note. He has a good head on his shoulders. I think he will see the consumers' side of this argument.

The insurance companies have a real racket going already. They don't need any help from the NC Leg.

Here are all the Senate Commerce email addresses on one line ...

Thanks, Blue South, and to all our BlueNC folks who are burning up the Web with emails heading to Raleigh ...

For those who want to have a quick copy/paste of the Senate Commerce members, here are the email addresses on one line:

Rcsoles@ncleg.net; Tonyr@ncleg.net; Davidh@ncleg.net; Toma@ncleg.net; Dougb@ncleg.net; philbe@ncleg.net; Juliab@ncleg.net; Walterd@ncleg.net; Katied@ncleg.net; Tonyf@ncleg.net; Jamesf@ncleg.net; Lindag@ncleg.net; Eddieg@ncleg.net; Steveg@ncleg.net; Malcolmg@ncleg.net; Kayh@ncleg.net; Nealh@ncleg.net; Jimja@ncleg.net; Johnk@ncleg.net; vernonm@ncleg.net; floydm@ncleg.net; martinn@ncleg.net; Robertp@ncleg.net; Williamp@ncleg.net; Larrys@ncleg.net; richards@ncleg.net

THANK YOU all for your emails to these Senators or the ones you know. The clock is ticking, so everyone's efforts on this "Action Item" are much appreciated and will have a profound effect, so long as we keep it up. Remember: if the bill passes the committee then it will be on the Senate floor on Wednesday or Thursday because of the crossover rule.

- Wayne Goodwin

First responses

I have already indicated to Jim Long that I am opposed to the bill. I, too believe it will hurt consumers.
Blessings,
Steve Goss
NC senate
District 45

I share your concerns about this bill.
Sincerely yours,
Senator Bill Purcell

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

"Keep the Faith"

I Was Out in the Neighborhood

Last night - distributing a pdf printout about this bill and the list of committee members.

I hope the neighbors take it to heart. They seemed interested - some of them even thanked me for the info.

I'll be out again this afternoon taking it to the rest of the neighbors. Ya'll might want to try it - think of it as your daily dose of exercise.

Great Idea, Unique!

It was pointed out at our District Convention yesterday that the State provides our only protection and regulation of the Insurance industry. The feds don't do it. So if these measures go through, we have no recourse at all against out of control insurers.
_____________
The Den
It's your democracy; use it.

As Person on a Fixed Income -

This bill scares the crap out of me.

Gas is already up, food is already up, if my taxes and insurance go up, what am I supposed to do? Rent my house and live in the barn?

I suppose I could but I really don't want to -

Wayne, I have posted about this

at my blog in the Moore County newspaper, the Pilot online. I have linked back to this and credited you for bringing it to our attention. I hope that more people stand up to the Insurance Industry and write, call and email their reps. Thanks.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

Just A Thought

If you haven't already done so, Wayne, you may want to compile a list of previous rate increase requests filed with the commission (approved and denied) along with a summary of actions taken to investigate the validity of whatever reasoning was used by the carriers.

This should help to demonstrate that the current system works and does not need to be streamlined (or whatever they're trying to accomplish). It may also give legislators (and others) an idea of what they can expect from a less-regulated approach.

Great idea

n/t

Been distributing it for weeks, but ...

when we present that data - and much other data in succinct understandable form - that shows how well the current system works compared to others, some of the Senators refuse to even listen to the data that the Dept of Insurance and Commissioner Jim Long have. Instead, certain Senators are listening only to the insurance company executives and their hired lobbyists. SB 901 is so bad that even the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina and other insurance agents oppose the bill. The Dept of Insurance has professional, independent expert actuaries and accountants and insurance technicians who say that SB 901 is bad - for the reasons provided in the initial email to everyone - and will lead to dramatic insurance increases.

Thank you for suggestion. Let Commissioner Long and me if you have additional ideas. It's crunch time.

Worker's Comp

When I started a contracting business I was required to carry workers comp even if I didn't have any employees just in case a subcontractor wasn't insured and got injured on my jobsite.

When you start out nobody will insure you so you have to go through the Rate Bureau who assigns a carrier at a high-risk rate (ie carpenters and roofers). It was about a $1,000 for nothing except that you need it to pull a building permit.

At the end of the year you show your labor expenses and either the certificates of insurance from subcontractors or signed waivers from self-employed contractors. For every other labor expense you pay a premium, even if you have no employees.

I'm surprise Americans for Prosperity and the US Chamber aren't jumping all over this. Workers comp is essential for on-the-job injuries but poorly regulated it could kill a lot of small businesses with arbitrarily high rates.

Don't even get me started on self-employed health insurance.

surprised?

For all the talk those groups throw out with helping small businesses they are fully committed to screwing over people who work for a living.

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

"Keep the Faith"

The only Americans they care about

are rich white straight Americans. If you could throw some gay-bashing into the mix, they'd be all over it.

Cynic Rout

So add a provision to require benefits for domestic partners and you've effectively killed the bill.

(All puns intended)

Keel beel

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Kill Bill

I thought you'd go there. Bonus trivia: One of my cousins was an assistant art director for that movie.

Don't know if it would help, but...

Maybe you could get Roy Cooper to say something. It's not really in the purview of Justice, but he is the State's primary consumer protection agent. There's nothing that says he can't state an opinion about something that would adversely impact consumers. At least I don't think that would be inappropriate or unethical, but I'm not familiar with the rules.

I wonder

Richard Moore might comment on its horrific effects on small businesses and homeowners. Maybe Easley or Purdue could say something.

Commissioner Long should have a lot more allies in this fight in my opinion.

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

"Keep the Faith"

Easley

should go ahead and promise to veto this sucker.

Oooh, bold, I like it.

nt

Im thinking

of heading over to the committee meeting in the morning.
11 am 1027 Legislative Building.

I wonder if I will be allowed in though, what with me only being a member of the public.

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

edit- but only if i know the meeting is definitely open to the public, and worth a trip, but i might have sent my email requests for info too late.

"Keep the Faith"

Here's the update on SB 901 from today

After each member of the Senate Commerce Committee allegedly received up to several hundred emails each in opposition to SB 901, and with a committee room packed with media and mostly opponents to SB 901 (there was a much smaller number of insurance lobbyists and a group of folks pushing a dairy/milk pasteurization bill as well), here is what happened:

The bill sponsor wavered in bringing the bill forward ... and chose not to proceed today only. Everyone was left hanging. No one will say when the bill will re-emerge.

That tactic made a number of attendees upset, and it certainly did the same for the media and the multitude of TV camera operators and print reporters who were all ready to hear what is going to happen with the bill. The bill is not dead, just floating in the ether until the insurance industry and others decide it is time to strike.

Frankly, everyone expects SB 901 to be brought up in a quickly-called meeting between now and Thursday evening. Curiously, no legislator or insurance lobbyist is willing to share or notify Insurance Commissioner Jim Long as to the details of the proposed amended bill. Why? The obvious reasons. Among those reasons: The less notice that Insurance Commissioner Jim Long and the public receives, then the harder it will be for him and the public to shine light on what SB 901 and any amended version of it does to consumers, homeowners and small businesses.

So, because any action that may occur with SB 901 will take place quickly and perhaps without any press present or even debate by opponents, continued emails and contact with Senators about opposition to SB 901 would be most prudent for those who oppose this legislation.

Suffice it to say that BlueNC primarily and the presence of TV/print media - and other kind souls who coordinated emails - have presently halted the bill's advance. The fight is not over.

Wayne

i am sending you a PM with my phone number. Until the crossover date is done please call me the minute you hear something. Even if it is 5 minutes before the meeting.

Draft Brad Miller-- NC Sen ActBlue

edit- although if i feel as sick as i did today i wont be able to personally attend, i can certainly spread the word

"Keep the Faith"

They Like to Do it in the Dark

That tactic made a number of attendees upset, and it certainly did the same for the media and the multitude of TV camera operators and print reporters who were all ready to hear what is going to happen with the bill.

I hope someone in the media reports on that.

Yes, folks, they are hiding behind a delaying tactic hoping we won't catch them at it.

Media folks, are you watching? There's a story for you right there - and people are interested. All those emails couldn't have come from just BlueNC; there are a lot of us, but there aren't that many of us.

I'm amazed that these tactics work so well

The media just doesn't cover this kind of thing. I think they think it makes them part of the story or that it will look like they're complaining too much.
 
News of the 10th district: See Pat Go Bye Bye,