Texas Watch Pushes for Real Reforms for Texas FamiliesProtecting Individual Legal Rights
Buoyed by the successes they had two years ago, the powerful special interests were back this session with an aggressive agenda to strip the legal rights of Texas families. Texas Watch countered this insurance industry-backed attack on our constitution by pushing for real legal reforms.
- In the wake of March’s tragic explosion at the BP plant in Texas City that injured dozens and killed 15, Texas Watch heightened media awareness about legislation that would have left victims of future tragedies without any ability to hold their employer accountable for providing an unsafe workplace. As a result of the media pressure, the bill’s author, Rep. Joe Nixon, was forced to pull his bill down.
- Under current Texas law, adults who provide alcohol to a minor cannot be held responsible if that child damages property or causes injury. Texas Watch helped pass legislation by Rep. Stephen Frost that would hold these so-called “cool parents” accountable for their actions. HB 2868, which was passed unanimously by both the Texas House and Senate, represents the kind of common sense legal reform that protects Texas families. Learn more about the bill and how it was passed.
- Finally, the special interests made taking away the rights of asbestos victims, who had been poisoned by their employers for decades, the cornerstone of their radical legislative agenda. With the help of asbestos victims and their families, Texas Watch helped lead the charge against the original legislation and helped force a compromise that will protect the legal rights of most victims who have cases pending against the polluters that poisoned them.
Fighting for Lower Insurance Rates
Two years ago, lawmakers enacted insurance legislation that was designed to bring rates down for Texas homeowners. After ordering an initial round of rate reductions, the Insurance Commissioner refused to get tough with companies that insisted on overcharging their policyholders. This session, Texas Watch put finishing the job of insurance reform back on the front burner.
- With no interest penalty for insurance companies that choose to price gouge their policyholders, Texas homeowners faced the possibility of even higher insurance premiums. Texas Watch worked with Insurance Committee Chairman John Smithee to pass legislation that will impose stiff penalties on those companies that are found to be overcharging. Now, insurers will have to think twice before they ignore orders to reduce their rates.
- Knowing that lawmakers are wary of sweeping insurance legislation, the insurance lobbyists tried to pass a series of bills that would have resulted in higher premiums. One particular bill, HB 2286 by Rep. Larry Taylor, would have allowed certain insurance companies to raise rates on drivers. Texas Watch worked to raise awareness about this bill, leading to its defeat by a vote of 10 voting in favor and 119 against.
- In January, the Texas Department of Insurance released a report showing that insurance credit scoring disproportionately impacts minorities and middle-income Texans. Texas Watch activists overwhelmed the House Insurance Committee during a key hearing on credit scoring legislation. Each activist offered a unique perspective on how credit scoring affected them personally.