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FEDERAL GROWTH GUIDE CRITICIZED AS MEDDLING
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FEDERAL GROWTH GUIDE CRITICIZED AS MEDDLING

BY CORY REISS

WASHINGTON -- Erick Gustafson grew up in a different Sarasota than he left seven years ago. Condominiums and vacation homes have replaced trailer parks on Longboat Key. Hotels have risen. Strip malls have been built. Countless tiffs about signage and aesthetics have flared.

01/01/2003
2002: Auto Insurance Choice and Competition Dwindles, Consumers Suffer, According to the Coalition for Auto Insurance Co…
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2002: Auto Insurance Choice and Competition Dwindles, Consumers Suffer, According to the Coalition for Auto Insurance Co…

For New Jerseyans seeking auto insurance coverage, 2002 will likely be known as the worst year in state history for auto insurance choice and competition. "Drivers are facing the ugly truth about auto insurance in New Jersey," said John Friedman, chairman of the Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition. "Excessive regulation and political interference is forcing auto insurers to flee New Jersey, leaving drivers with little choice and few options." More than twenty-five auto insurers have left New Jersey during the last ten years. In 2002, seven auto insurers either left or announced plans to stop doing business in New Jersey: - January: Harleysville Insurance Company agrees to pay Palisades Safety and Insurance Association and Palisades Insurance Company $4.7 million to take the 16,000 vehicles Harleysville insures. - June: State officials approve State Farm Indemnity's request to withdraw from New Jersey. - September: State Farm Indemnity starts non-renewing 96,000 New Jersey auto policies as part of its withdrawal. - September: Twin City Fire Insurance Company, part of Hartford Financial Services, agrees to pay Palisades Safety & Insurance Association and Palisades Insurance Company $9.2 million to take the 24,000 vehicles Twin City insures in New Jersey. - September: Great American Insurance Company agrees to pay Palisades Safety & Insurance Association and Palisades Insurance Company $7.0 million to take the 24,000 vehicles Great American insurers in New Jersey. - December: The Robert Plan shuts its New Jersey business, non-renewing its last 20,000 vehicles through a Department of Banking and Insurance-ordered "solvent run-off" precipitated by the company's hazardous financial condition. - December: Central Mutual Insurance Company announces it is leaving New Jersey. - December: Merchants Insurance Group announces it is leaving New Jersey. Each month, the owners of more than 4,000 vehicles learn that their auto insurance coverage is not being renewed, forcing these policyholders to search for replacement coverage in a market bereft of sufficient choice and competition. The Coalition points to the state's excessive regulation of auto insurance as the culprit behind the lack of sufficient auto insurance choice and competition. "Without swift action by state lawmakers, consumers will likely face fewer choices in 2003 as excessive regulations and political influence continues to take its toll," said Friedman. "Drivers need a regulatory system that promotes competition, encourages companies to sell auto insurance in New Jersey, and creates a stable market that offers more choices for consumers." "Until reforms are made that promote greater consumer choice and industry competition, insurers will continue to lack the incentive to grow and invest capital in New Jersey, leaving drivers in a lurch," said Friedman. The latest figures show New Jersey has 47 percent fewer companies selling auto insurance than Illinois and more than a third fewer than neighboring New York and Pennsylvania. More than twenty auto insurance companies have left New Jersey in the past ten years, and two have left in the last year. The Coalition has been working to educate New Jersey drivers and policy makers to stem the state's unprecedented auto insurance crisis precipitated by the deterioration of the financial health of New Jersey's auto insurance industry. The group is calling for passage and enactment of the New Jersey Auto Insurance Competition and Choice Act (A-2625 and S-1999), which outlines reforms that will attract more auto insurers to New Jersey by permitting companies to use industry-accepted standard underwriting methods already used in nearly every state. "While 2002 has been a bad year for auto insurance consumers, 2003 does offer hope for meaningful reform," said Friedman. "Governor McGreevey has acknowledged the problem and promised to present his own proposal in January to stimulate auto insurance choice and competition," The Coalition welcomes the participation of consumers, businesses, and associations who seek to work together to bring about meaningful and responsible auto insurance reform. Members include the National Association of Independent Insurers, Insurance Council of New Jersey, American Insurance Association, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, Independent Insurance Agents of New Jersey, Citizens for a Sound Economy, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, New Jersey Association of REALTORS, Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey, New Jersey Food Council, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, NJ SEED (Society for Environmental, Economic Development), Somerset County Chamber of Commerce and the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey. CONTACT: Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition Ernie Landante, 973/799-0200 www.njcaic.org URL: http://www.businesswire.com

12/30/2002
Conservative and Free Market Groups Call FTC Do-Not-Call Registry Bad Economic Policy;
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Conservative and Free Market Groups Call FTC Do-Not-Call Registry Bad Economic Policy;

In anticipation of the expected announcement today by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of its proposal to create and monitor a nation wide "do not call" (DNC) list many national conservative and free market organizations have issued their protest, again, to the unprecedented steps of the federal agency. "Today's move by the FTC to go ahead with a national do-not-call list is just bad economic policy. Many businesses, particularly small businesses, and their employees are going to be negatively affected by this move. Congress and the Bush Administration should put a halt to this ill-advised policy," stated Darrell McKigney, President of the Small Business Survival Committee (SBSC). Many experts on state rights, privacy advocates, and heads of free market and conservative organizations have concerns about adding new regulations on the teleservices industry that will have a far reaching impact on small businesses, non profit organizations, and the general public. Seventeen groups signed on to a petition letter to President Bush in June of 2002 adamantly opposing the FTC's proposed DNC list. "While the 'do not call' proposal has become a topic of debate here in Washington, it is not evident that action by the Federal Trade Commission is necessary," stated Paul Beckner, president of Citizens for a Sound Economy. "The FTC's actions raise important questions about free speech and may harm consumers more than they would help them. "As numerous studies have demonstrated, direct business communication to consumers increases awareness of product alternatives, intensifies competition, and lowers prices. Furthermore, many private sector alternatives have developed to address concerns about unsolicited phone calls, including 'hassle-free' credit cards and caller id and call block features from telephone companies. New FTC regulations on commercial speech would not only harm the solicitors, but foreclose the market for private sector alternatives through the creation of a vast database that would compromise consumer privacy in the process." Duane Parde, executive director of the American Legislative Exchange Council, said, "There is absolutely no need for the federal government to enforce such frivolous regulations on to Americans when states are already implementing do-not-call lists, and the free market is providing solutions to block unwanted calls to consumers. The federal government is most assuredly not needed here." ALEC, CSE, and SBSC, represent three of the groups out of 17 that oppose this FTC ruling and signed on to a petition letter to President Bush in June, 2002, urging the President to withdrawal this FTC initiative immediately. Copies of the petition letter available upon request. CONTACT: Stella Harrison, +1-202-431-6461, or stella@stellarstrategies.net, for the Small Business Survival Committee. MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X26314665 SOURCE Small Business Survival Committee

12/18/2002
A Bountiful Harvest?
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Press Release

A Bountiful Harvest?

Thanksgiving gives pause for reflection. For taxpayers and consumers, the year has seen a few bright spots, but a great deal happened in Washington that most will find unpalatable. While a sluggish economy has shaken consumer confidence, Washington continues to spend and government continues to grow. As always, the tension between big government solutions and markets frames the policy debate in Congress. A review of the year’s policy questions suggests that Washington continues an agenda with a big-government bias that may be out of touch with consumers and taxpayers:

11/26/2002
Who is Nancy Pelosi?
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Press Release

Who is Nancy Pelosi?

Rep. Dick Gephardt is on the way out, making way for Rep. Nancy Pelosi to become House Democrat Minority Leader. It's not an improvement.

11/13/2002
A Win for Markets
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Press Release

A Win for Markets

Last week’s Republican surprise has left pundits and news analysts hard-pressed to explain the sea change in American politics. A number of explanations—from the war with Iraq to lackluster campaigning by Democrats—have been put forward to understand an election that left Republicans in charge of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. Yet, in many ways, the election may be explained best as a re-affirmation of the principles of limited government, first established by the Founders. Moving beyond the political parties to the ideas and issues that concerned the voters provides important insights into the final results as well as guideposts for the new majority.

11/13/2002
Same Faces, Same Issues
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Press Release

Same Faces, Same Issues

Although the midterm elections will bring 61 new Senators and Representatives to Congress, this week the same old faces are back in town. Because there is unfinished business that can’t wait until January, Congress is convening in a rare post-election “Lame Duck” session. This week, Congress will focus on the remaining appropriation bills, creating a new Homeland Security Department, moving forward on judicial nominees, passing out energy legislation stalled in conference committee, and possibly enacting terrorism insurance. Here’s a look at what could happen in the remaining days of the 107th Congress.

11/13/2002
Win, Lose, or Draw? The Elections and Consumers
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Press Release

Win, Lose, or Draw? The Elections and Consumers

The 2002 mid-term elections were critical for consumers on a number of issues. While Republicans were of course unchallenged in the executive branch, the battle for control of the legislature has been fierce and the Republican victory has wide ranging implications for a number of policies. With the help of activists across the nation, CSE saw the elections as an opportunity to educate voters and politicians on important questions that affect consumers. With both houses of Congress now controlled by Republicans, the policy agenda may shift in the next two years. Changes may not be dramatic, however, because Democrats have such procedural tactics as the filibuster to temper policies in the Senate.

11/06/2002
The Ground War Begins
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Press Release

The Ground War Begins

With less than one week to go before one of the most important and yet least cared about elections in modern history, the massive “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) begins in earnest. The politicians and their campaign strategists have basically ended the phase of the campaign where they attempt to convince undecided voters to join their side. Instead, this largely unseen final stage of a campaign focuses on turning out the vote of your identified supporters.

10/29/2002
Criminalizing Corporate Behavior
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Press Release

Criminalizing Corporate Behavior

© 2002 Copley News Service, 10/29/2002

10/29/2002

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