FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2009
AUSTIN, TX — Today during the Business and Commerce Committee hearing Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. spoke out in defense of coastal residents and against Senate Bill 14 that would require residents of 28 coastal counties to pay rates of up to 40 percent higher for coverage under the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).
Known as the Texas Catastrophe Property Insurance Association until September 1, 1997, TWIA provides wind and hail coverage to applicants unable to obtain insurance in the voluntary market and is authorized to write limited coverage for wind and hail in areas designated by the commissioner of insurance as "catastrophe areas."
Comments by Sen. Lucio
This bill uses large surcharges to shift the majority of the burden of payment for TWIA from statewide policy holders to TWIA and coastal area policy holders. Quite frankly, this bill pits one area of the state against another.
We are all part of this great state and this bill seems to ignore all of the ways our coastal communities positively impact the rest of the state. Our coasts are an important tourist destination. Our ports serve as a critical entry point for goods that the entire state needs and wants. Texas' oil refineries are located here.
No one seems to complain about all of the economic activity the coast generates for the state of Texas.
As a Texan, I don't mind paying a little bit more on my policy to help those who have lost a home to a tornado or whose property has been severely damaged because of hail. They've suffered a catastrophe through no fault of their own, and I consider it my duty, as a member of this state, to support their recovery. This bill will put an unforgivable burden on Texans along our coast. They survived Dolly, Rita and Ike, and we're thinking about making it even harder for them to move forward.
During the committee hearing on SB 14, there were statements made about the state subsidizing the lifestyle of Texans who choose to live on the coast through the current TWIA funding system. This statement is a gross mischaracterization of reality. Almost 24 percent of the state's population lives along the coast. Moreover, 44 percent of Texas' total income and 40 percent of all jobs are connected to the Texas Gulf Coast area.
If a Katrina level storm had hit our coast, the loss to the state would have been $52.2 billion in gross state product - the sum of all value added by industries within the state. There would have been a loss of 617,000 jobs and a loss of $1.8 billion in annual state revenue.
Not everybody along the coast lives in $2 million homes. Probably more do in Barton Creek (Austin subdivision) than in my district! These are average folks working to make a modest living in this coastal area.
The following areas are designated as catastrophe areas: the fourteen coastal counties (Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, and Willacy) and those areas in Harris County that are located east of State Highway 146 and inside the city limits of the cities of Seabrook, La Porte, Shoreacres, Pasadena, and Morgan's Point.