The disaster in South Texas has brought publicity to the changes made to Texas insurance regulations by HB 1774, a law passed this session by our Legislature. The law was championed (and likely written) by the Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a political funding machine concocted in 2000 by Tom DeLay.

What kind of reform were these folks seeking? Lower premiums for homeowners? Lower deductibles? More timely policy payouts? Not hardly.

The law reduces the interest rate applied to delayed settlements by almost half, diluting the leverage the homeowner had to encourage the insurance company to make a fair and timely settlement. Delaying payment is a tactic used by insurance companies to get homeowners to settle for less money, just so they can get out of the motel and get on with rebuilding.

It also reduces the likelihood that the insurance companies would have to pay the homeowner's attorney’s fees when the homeowner had to resort to a lawsuit, discouraging the homeowner from using the courts for relief.

When the corporate “citizens” buy our lawmakers through campaign contributions, real, live citizens lose. That’s the state of our state. It’s being run only to benefit the wealthy.

Sharla Riddle,