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Texas House Bill 1131 Would Reduce Consumer Choices
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Press Release

Texas House Bill 1131 Would Reduce Consumer Choices

Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy is concerned about legislation – though well intended – that would limit consumer choice and likely eliminate jobs in Texas. HB 1131 by Rep. Flores and the companion bill, SB 435 by Sen. Carona, threaten existing Texas jobs by mandating divestiture of Allstate Insurance in a motor vehicle repair facility, Sterling Auto Body Repair. These bills are not free-market, nor are they pro-consumer. This is a pocket book issue, an issue of consumer choice, and an issue that challenges the appropriate role of government.

04/11/2003
Towards a Sound Policy on Global Warming
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Press Release

Towards a Sound Policy on Global Warming

April 11, 2003 Chairman Pete Domenici Energy and Natural Resources Committee U.S. Senate SD-364 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510-6150 Dear Chairman Domenici:

04/11/2003
U.S. Congress Learns of New Jersey's Auto Insurance Crisis
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U.S. Congress Learns of New Jersey's Auto Insurance Crisis

Federal lawmakers today learned that New Jersey's auto insurance crisis has impacted more than a quarter million people within the past three years alone, forcing drivers to search for auto insurance in a market bereft of auto insurers. Testifying before the House Financial Services Capital Markets Subcommittee, Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition Vice Chairman John J. Marchioni explained that excessive regulation of the industry has lead to a shortage of insurance for consumers seeking coverage. The Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition's statewide public education campaign has informed citizens and lawmakers that years of politicizing and over regulating auto insurance has caused the exodus of auto insurers from New Jersey, leaving consumers with too few companies from which to purchase auto insurance. Five of the six largest auto insurers in the nation do not sell auto coverage in the state and more than twenty auto insurers fled New Jersey in the past decade. Nearly 40 auto insurers have withdrawn from New Jersey since 1976 and several more have announced plans to stop doing business in the state. "To solve the current capacity and availability crisis, it is imperative for additional capital to be invested in the New Jersey auto insurance market. But the private sector is unlikely to take that step until the numerous regulatory barriers to competition are dismantled. Reforms must give existing insurers confidence they can effectively serve their customers, generate a competitive rate of return, and attract additional insurers to enter the marketplace," said Marchioni. The Coalition supports New Jersey State Senate Bill No. 63, which passed the State Senate and is expected to be considered by the New Jersey General Assembly in May. The New Jersey Automobile Insurance Competition and Choice Act has the backing of Governor James McGreevey and a bipartisan group of legislators in both houses. "Assuming S-63 is signed into law, the required regulatory changes are swiftly enacted, and the reforms are allowed to take root without political interference, New Jersey could become a more attractive market for insurers, with the state's consumers the ultimate beneficiaries," said Marchioni. The Coalition 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(R), Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey, New Jersey Food Council, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, NJ SEED (Society for Environmental, Economic Development) Latino Chamber of Commerce of Mercer County and the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey.

04/10/2003
This Week on Capitol Hill
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Press Release

This Week on Capitol Hill

With two days left until Congress adjourns for the Easter recess, a budget conference report and the supplemental appropriations bill have not been completed. Conferees on the budget have yet to agree on a tax cut figure, but it does seem like the members concur on a discretionary spending total of $784 billion, which is nearly the amount the president outlined.

04/10/2003
Can Common Sense Return to Our Legal System?
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Press Release

Can Common Sense Return to Our Legal System?

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court brought a measure of reason back to the nation’s costly legal system when it rejected a $145 million punitive damages award against State Farm (State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell, et al). In a 6-3 decision, the Court claimed that the Utah Supreme Court had incorrectly reinstated the award because it failed to follow earlier guidelines on punitive damages established by the Supreme Court. The decision reverberates well beyond the case in Utah, addressing the abuse of punitive damages in general, which the Court describes as “an irrational and arbitrary deprivation of the property of the defendant.”

04/10/2003
Cain Closer to Decision
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Cain Closer to Decision

BY Rob Christensen, Amy Gardner

Jim Cain, a Republican lawyer from Raleigh, says he is continuing to explore a gubernatorial bid next year and plans to decide within eight weeks. Cain drew notice this week when he criticized a Department of Commerce trade mission to Europe because it included a stop in France. Cain said he thought it was inappropriate to go to France because of that country's opposition to the war in Iraq. Although he said he has made no decision, Cain said he is closer to declaring his candidacy than he was at the beginning of the year. "I have received lot of encouragement by friends and acquaintances whose opinions I respect and who have a continuing concern about our state leadership," Cain said. Cain, 45, said family considerations will play a major role in his decision. He and his wife have two daughters. Cain is best known as president of the Carolina Hurricanes professional hockey team, a post he left last year. As a result of the hockey job and his law practice, Cain has made connections with many area business leaders. But he is also politically experienced, having been trained in politics as part of the old National Congressional Club, the political organization of former Sen. Jesse Helms. Cain is the subject of a flattering profile in this month's edition of North Carolina, the magazine of the N.C. Citizens for Business and Industry. The group functions as the state's chamber of commerce. Cain is hardly the only Republican interested in challenging Democratic Gov. Mike Easley. Others who have expressed interest include Sen. Patrick Ballantine of Wilmington, former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot, insurance agent George Little of Southern Pines, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverly Lake Jr. and Winston-Salem lawyer Dan Barrett. U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes of Concord is expected to announce shortly that he will not run for governor. Justice Lake to stay? Lake is still not talking about whether he plans to run for governor next year. But the Republican's options remain narrow under a revised Code of Judicial Conduct issued this week. Talk had circulated in Raleigh that justices were considering a revision to the code to allow judges to remain on the bench while running for nonjudicial offices. In the end, they decided to leave the provision alone, Lake said. "Judges have to not just be impartial completely," Lake said. "They have to be perceived as impartial and fair." Political wedding You can tell it's a political wedding when two former U.S. senators and a former congressman show up. The recent wedding of Chuck Fuller and Holly Michelle Coffer in North Raleigh resembled a Republican convention. And no wonder. Fuller managed the 1998 re-election campaign of Sen. Lauch Faircloth and the 1996 gubernatorial campaign of Robin Hayes. Coffer is the daughter of Raleigh physician Bert Coffer, who was campaign treasurer for Sen. Jesse Helms in 1996. Helms, Faircloth and former U.S. Rep. Fred Heineman were among those who attended the ceremony at Bay Leaf Baptist Church. Among the groomsmen were Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell and Jonathan Hill, the head of the state chapter of Citizens for a Sound Economy. Democrats were sprinkled in the crowd as well, including former Lt. Gov. Dennis Wicker and Rufus Edmisten, a former secretary of state and former attorney general.

04/09/2003
Budget's First Draft Passes House Panel
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Budget's First Draft Passes House Panel

BY John Moritz

AUSTIN--The House Appropriations Committee passed the first draft of the state's 2004-05 bare-bones budget Monday amid howls from critics that some of the spending cuts go too deep and acknowledgements from supporters that the document will change before it becomes law. The version that emerged from the Republican-dominated appropriations panel on a 19-2 vote and is heading for the full House increases overall spending slightly. But it calls for sharp reductions for higher education programs, criminal justice and public safety initiatives and the funds lawmakers receive to run their offices. "I expect there will be a good deal of debate and discussion on the House floor, and there should be," said state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, the panel's chairwoman. The $117.7 billion budget contains 5.5 percent less state revenue than does the 2002-03 spending plan. But it would draw about 6 percent more from the federal government than the state currently receives. Republicans also pointed out that spending for human services programs will rise more than 5 percent over the next two years. The panel recommended reducing spending for public education by $65.8 million, or 0.2 percent, and cutting funds for higher education by $773.5 million, a 4.7 percent drop. Criminal justice and public safety programs would lose $609.4 million, a 7.2 percent cutback. The appropriation to run the Legislature would be cut by $30.6 million, a 10 percent reduction. Programs for health and human services would see a $2.1 billion increase, although some initiatives within the immense agency would be trimmed and some public-assistance rolls would be reduced. The committee's action came after weeks of testimony from recipients of social service programs who said that they depend on state-paid health programs for their survival. Even with the proposed spending increases, the panel's budget would still slash the rolls of the state-paid Children's Health Insurance Program for low-income working families and from the Medicaid program for more needy Texans. Two committee Democrats, Joe Deshotel of Port Arthur and Richard Raymond of Laredo, voted against the budget plan. Budget writers are attempting close a $9.9 billion gap between what the state anticipated receiving from various revenue sources and the cost of keeping services at about the same level for 2002-03. State leaders said early in the legislative session that a tax increase was unacceptable. State Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, said the plan falls short. "The areas I'm focusing on are education and health and human services," said Eiland, who was absent for the committee's vote. "If those two areas are not substantially increased, I won't be able to support it on the floor." Peggy Venable, who directs the conservative Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, said the budget is a much-needed step toward reducing the size of state government. "We realize that for every state dollar spent, there is a constituency," Venable said. "But it is time to go back and make sure that we only fund those programs that the state should be funding." Scott McCown, who heads the liberal Center for Public Policy Priorities, took a much different view. "It's a very, very cruel budget," he said of the proposed cuts to social services. "And what is so frustrating is that we could have been able to afford to mitigate so many of these cuts with a tax on cigarettes. Depending on the level of tax, we could raise $1.5 billion, and that could have restored some of the programs they want to cut."

04/08/2003
CSE Meets with Representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ)
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Press Release

CSE Meets with Representative Jim Kolbe (R-AZ)

Citizens for a Sound Economy staff met with Representative Jim Kolbe today to discuss the prospects for Social Security reform legislation. CSE works closely with entrepreneurial Members like Rep. Kolbe who are dedicated to reforming the Social Security program. Pictured here are Congressman Kolbe and CSE Executive Vice President Matt Kibbe.

04/08/2003
Kiss Tells House Leaders There is No Speaker's Race
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Kiss Tells House Leaders There is No Speaker's Race

BY Fanny Seiler

House Speaker Bob Kiss has called a halt to some jockeying for his position that grew out of rumors that he was leaving the House. "I'm speaker for a two-year term," he said last week. "I don't plan to go anywhere." Kiss, D-Raleigh, said he had a meeting with some members of his senior leadership team after two new delegates asked him what to do about the speaker's race. He told them if they were stroking delegates to stop. If he runs for another office next year, Kiss feels an obligation to make a decision by this summer, and announce it. "I am considering some things. I am not thinking about governor." Asked if he was thinking about running for the state Supreme Court - as is being speculated - Kiss sidestepped and said, "I'm giving thought to a number of things." He said he doesn't know if he'll run for re-election to the House. Majority Whip Scott Varner, D-Marshall, and Delegates Richard Browning, D-Wyoming, and Richard Thompson, D-Wayne, reportedly had their sights set on being speaker. "Until he leaves, I'm not interested," Varner said last week. "He's never indicated he's leaving. He's the speaker. I support him until he leaves." If Kiss leaves, Varner is interested in the position. Varner said he's heard that someone is talking with Thompson about running for speaker. Thompson is a lawyer and one of several (Varner included) labor-endorsed delegates. While not a member of the leadership team, Kiss asked Thompson to attend the meeting, too. "The way I look at it, we have a speaker," Thompson said Friday. "That isn't to say I wouldn't be interested" if Kiss left, he added. Thompson said rumors were rampant that Kiss was leaving, and there was general talk about "what if that were to occur. A number of delegates asked me if I would be willing to do it." Thompson said he would. "Right now, it's up in the air. If the situation changes, we'll have to be ready. We'll just have to wait. "I think there will continue to be talk," Thompson said, as long as the rumors continue. Browning was defeated by labor in 1996 after he voted for a labor-opposed workers' compensation reform bill in 1995. He was elected again in 2000. Basically, everyone thought Kiss wasn't going to run for re-election, Browning said. "I told Bob if he chose to come back, I would support him. If he didn't, I was going to run." Browning said he didn't campaign for speaker during the session, and had told Kiss last December he wouldn't. Majority Leader Rick Staton, D-Wyoming, said Kiss told the meeting there isn't a speaker's race. "I agree." Staton was viewed as labor's candidate for a brief period of jockeying in 1999 until the state Supreme Court ruled that Kiss couldn't serve as a justice after his appointment to the bench by then-Gov. Cecil Underwood. Staton said he will seek re-election to the House. If the speaker's position is open then, Staton said it would depend on the situation whether he'd be interested in running for the top job. Those who were in the meeting during the week that budget conferees met included Varner; Browning; Staton; Finance Chairman Harold Michael, D-Hardy; Education Chairman Jerry Mezzatesta, D-Hampshire; Thompson; and Delegate Emily Yeager, D-McDowell, who was campaigning for Thompson. SHORTS - Gov. Bob Wise announced at a fund-raiser that was held for him in Huntington on March 28 that $ 300,000 raised by that event put the overall total for his re-election campaign at more than $ 1 million. The Huntington event was sponsored by businessman Robert Shell, his sons, Robby Shell (president of the family Guyan Machinery business) and Todd Shell, vice president of Guyan Rebuilders. Others attending included: Huntington businessman Marshall Reynolds, owner of Chapman Printing; retired banking executive Mike Perry; Paul Turman II, of Turman Construction in Barboursville; Huntington lawyer Menis Ketchum and his son, Brent Ketchum, also a lawyer; Brent Marsteller, administrator at Cabell Huntington Hospital; Dr. Robert Walker from the Marshall University medical school; Mike Sundall from St. Mary's Hospital; Wylie Stowers, Lincoln County Democratic chairman, and his sons, Greg Stowers, Lincoln County circuit clerk, and Lyle Stowers, second vice chairman of the state Democratic Executive Committee; and former Sen. Lloyd Jackson II, D-Lincoln. Congressman Nick Joe Rahall, D-W.Va., had a fund-raiser for Wise at his home in Beckley on March 24 and reportedly raised about $ 11,000. Rahall called people and invited them to attend. Congressman Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., had a big fund-raiser for Wise in Morgantown on March 17, and Drew Payne, a Republican member of the West Virginia Racing Commission, had a private dinner last month for Wise. Wise traveled to Gilbert on March 27 to cut a ribbon for the opening of Terry Sammons' wife's Morning Side Coffee Shop. Terry Sammons is a prominent Republican who practices law in Mingo County and was appointed by Wise to the Higher Education Policy Commission. nnn Rob Capehart, former secretary of tax and revenue, says he has a moratorium on his campaign fund-raising activities during the war, but went ahead with a reception in Wheeling on March 21, the day after the war started. Capehart is exploring whether to run for governor on the Republican ticket next year. He said the reception at the Wheeling County Club had already been organized, but he stopped making phone calls to get people to attend even before the war started because so many of the people had relatives in the military. Capehart said more than 100 people attended. Steve Cohen, who formerly worked for Wise and is a member of the country club, was Capehart's first contributor for the reception. Capehart said he has raised about $ 20,000 to $ 25,000 so far during his exploratory campaign to pay for his travel expenses and a poll. He would like to raise another $ 25,000 for the exploratory campaign that will determine whether he'll become a candidate for governor. He has been speaking at several Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinners, including dinners in Wetzel, Roane, Mercer and Wood counties. Former Highways Commissioner Sam Beverage, who is also a potential gubernatorial candidate, has attended the dinners, too, Capehart said. Capehart also spoke last month to the Harrison County Republican Club, which was recently started by former Sen. Jay Wolfe, R-Harrison. He spoke in Point Pleasant on March 29 at a meeting of the West Virginia chapter of the Citizens for a Sound Economy, a large national organization, and at a rally for American troops at the Mason County courthouse. Most of Capehart's family lives in Mason County. Other prominent Republicans are on the Lincoln Day circuit, too. Former Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr., was the Jefferson County Lincoln Day speaker on March 28, and is to speak in Clarksburg on April 12. His daughter, Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., was the Jackson County dinner speaker on March 29.

04/06/2003
Putting the focus on contact lens prescriptions
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Press Release

Putting the focus on contact lens prescriptions

Support HB 2997: Protecting Consumer Rights

04/06/2003

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