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Insurance incentive fund bill advances during special session

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – A bill that would put millions of dollars into an insurance company stimulus fund was put forward on the second day of a special session in Louisiana.

The House Appropriations Committee spent hours on Tuesday, January 31, listening to differing opinions on what to do with the $45 million demand from the Louisiana Department of Insurance. Republican state Representative for Louisiana Tanner Magee, of Terrebonne Township, said he had concerns about whether the money would bring insurers who would actually pay out claims.

“The point of insurance is that if something happens, you are protected. That’s why we’re mandating insurance almost everywhere,” Rep. Magee said.

Part of the proposal would require companies looking to do business in Louisiana to be rated A. Many lawmakers said the requirement should have been in place when a similar program was created in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Speaking before the committee, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon was asked why he didn’t ask for the money during the 2022 Louisiana regular session.

“We went to Senate Finance the night before Sign and Die, and Sen. White put it on the agenda so we could share the information with them. But he had made it clear throughout the process that he did not support the program’s funding last year,” Donelon said.

Ahead of the House Appropriations Committee meeting on Tuesday, January 31, there was no contingency plan if no agreement was reached on the money. However, some lawmakers suggested that the money should be placed in Louisiana’s Fortified Roof Program rather than the Incentive Fund.

“Honestly, the fortified homes seem like something we should be looking into more because when you do the fortified roof and other things on your property, insurance companies give owners discounts,” added Rep. Aimee Freeman of New Orleans sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

Ultimately, an amendment was proposed to set a late 2023 deadline for the money to be used or put into the Fortified Roof Program.

The stimulus bill, along with Republican Rep. John Stefanski’s bill reviewing companies looking to do business, made it out of committee. Now the entire House of Representatives will have a chance to ask questions before voting on both bills and the proposed amendment.

Lawmakers will return at 10 a.m. Wednesday, February 1 to pick up where they left off.

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