Mississippi coast legislators say insurance and tourism are among their top concerns in the coming session.
Representative Hank Zuber of Ocean Springs says the No. 1 impediment to economic development on the coast is the cost of insurance. Speaking at a chamber breakfast in Biloxi yesterday, Zuber says that’s why he’s supporting a "clarity" bill that would require insurance companies to disclose, by zip code, how much they paid in claims and earned in premiums.
"Not only is it sound policy, it's an issue of transparency and openness," Zuber says. "I mean, where are the losses? We want the losses characterized by zip code, and then where are the highest premiums being paid."
Representative Scott Delano of Biloxi says there are several bills the coast delegation is looking at to address the issue of high property insurance rates. One is a clarity bill - "that's a very big initiative that a lot of our constituents are looking forward to," he says. "I'd also like to see a catastrophe savings account, to help allow taxpayers to save a little money and use that for dedictubles. That will help them lower their insurance premiums throughout the year."
Delano, Zuber and Representatives Patricia Willis of Diamondhead spoke at a chamber breakfast in Biloxi yesterday. Another issue for the coast, they said: additional funding for tourism. Willis is a member of the House tourism committee.
"The governor has just asked for $5.1 million more - our budget is already $3 million," she says. "That only gives us $8.1 million, but it's a big chunk more that we can use, and every dollar spent on tourism brings back $6.64 into this economy.
The next legislative session starts January 6.