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Senate approves TWIA bill

Reform of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency was the original reason for this special session. It may yet be the reason for the next special session.

Like ringing the bell at the boxing ring, the Senate today approved a bill that is all but certain to restart a brawl with the House over how to reform the state’s windstorm insurer of last resort.

“I intend to fight for this tougher than I’ve ever fought for anything,” said state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee.

The Senate’s version of HB3, a bill meant to reform TWIA, is radically different from the one the lower chamber approved, and is not favored by Gov. Rick Perry. The approval today sets up a fight very similar to the one that scuttled the bill during the regular legislative session and prompted Perry to threaten a special session. It is the major reason lawmakers are in the current session.

Carona said he was prepared for “one hell of a fight,” and that he is ready to stand up for the Senate’s version of the TWIA bill, even if that means returning to the Capitol for another special lawmaking session. “My summer plans are flexible,” he said.

Based on remarks from Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, chairman of the House Insurance Committe, other lawmakers might want to consider making their plans flexible, too. Smithee said he Senate bill approved today is even more different from the House goals and more favorable to lawyers than the measure senators approved during the regular session “If that’s really what he wants to do, then we have a fundamental disagreement that is probably not reconcilable,” Smithee said. “We’ve basically gone back to a system designed only for one thing, and it’s to put money in the hands of lawyers.”

So if we do wind up going into a second special session because the Republican supermajority still can’t get its act together on this legislation, can we at least agree that Wendy Davis bears no responsibility for what happened during the first one? As I said before, we were always going to have a special session; the only variable was what was left to be added to the call. At this rate, the Rs may go through their entire roster of bills that didn’t get passed the first time around. As long as they have the excuse that they didn’t finish up something that needed to get done, why not?

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