Interim Charges for Texas Lawmakers Focus on Harvey’s Impact

November 6, 2017

In laying out the interim committee charges for the next legislative session, which will begin in January 2019, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus focused on Hurricane Harvey’s impact on the state.

Almost every House committee received at least one charge related to the state’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey, according to an announcement released by Straus on Oct. 23.

Committees are to study the issues assigned to them and report their findings to the House before the next session begins.

“This is an opportunity for the Legislature to better understand the impact of the storm, to evaluate the response of state agencies and to prepare for future disasters,” Straus said in announcing the interim charges. “Hurricane Harvey will impact just about every major issue in the next legislative session, and the House should be fully prepared for that moment.”

In total, Straus issued more than 230 interim charges. Those that may affect the property/casualty insurance industry in the state include:

House Committee on Insurance

  • Examine the effect of Hurricane Harvey on the insurance market in Texas. Include an evaluation of the status of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and Texas FAIR Plan Association, and of the impact of Harvey on the ability of these residual markets to achieve their statutory goals and meet the needs of their policyholders. Examine possible gaps and vulnerabilities in insurance coverage brought to light by Harvey and recommend ways to address these issues.
  • Study the coverage provided by the most common homeowners’ insurance policy forms in Texas, and methods to provide more clarity to Texas consumers about this coverage and the possible need for endorsements or other types of insurance.
  • Study the use of appraisal processes under property insurance policies in Texas, including the effects of court decisions on the use of these processes and the impact of their use on insurers and policyholders.
  • Examine the impacts of changes in prescription drug coverage and drug formularies on patients, particularly those with chronic conditions.
  • Evaluate recent efforts in Texas and in other states to enhance transparency regarding the practices of pharmacy benefit managers.
  • Review Texas’ financial responsibility laws for automobile insurance, including the minimum liability limits required by state law.

House Committee on Business & Industry

  • Evaluate the adequacy of the workforce currently available to the industries responsible for rebuilding the state’s key infrastructure as well as residential and commercial properties damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Specifically, examine the labor needs within the construction industry and skilled trades and determine if local or state licensing requirements and regulations are an unnecessary barrier to the ongoing success of post-Harvey recovery.
  • Review all existing law concerning consumer rights and protections, including but not limited to statutes that address deceptive practices, landlord/tenant agreements, and homeowner/contractor disputes. Determine whether the provisions offer adequate guidance and protections in disaster and recovery situations.
  • Review the increased use of third party data gathering, particularly individual background information and history, by Texas employers and businesses. Examine the standards for accessing, providing, and updating accurate background information used for employment purposes.
  • Study the impact of data breaches or theft on Texas consumers and businesses. In particular, study the consequences of recent data breaches and subsequent mitigation efforts. Review the existing standards of risk as well as the current best practices in securing sensitive and personal information held or used by private industries. Determine if existing rules and regulations offer adequate consumer protection while allowing continued economic success for businesses in the state.
  • Monitor the status of the Texas workers’ compensation system, including existing policies on compounded pharmaceuticals and designated doctor assessments. Review recent trends in employer participation in the system.