Stine: Teacher pay raise ‘big win’ during session

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Insurance companies will pay a stiffer penalty when they don’t pay claims in a timely manner. That’s just one of the insurance reforms state Sen. Jeremy Stine helped push through at the recent legislative session. Stine highlighted a few other insurance reforms and legislative action during his talk at the Thursday, Aug. 11, West Cal Chamber meeting.

He described the state’s pay raise for teachers as a “big win,” saying the two most popular themes on the minds of constituents are education and infrastructure.

Early child care and higher ed will receive a cash infusion of $84 million. Water and sewer funding is on its way. About $400,000 million has been earmarked for the Interstate 10 Calcasieu River Bridge.

“Our goal, obviously, is to get a new bridge without a toll,” Stine said. “We’re told it’s going to be very difficult.”

The price tag could be $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

“Regarding the toll, one of the things we’ve talked about is a shadow toll, which simply means if you are a resident of the five-parish area, you will not have to pay the toll. As it stands right now, and the way I feel about it is, no toll.”

Stine suggested car shoppers get their vehicles here, not another state. That’s because a percentage of the vehicle sales tax goes toward the Mega Project Leverage Fund, a fund for the building/improvement of the I-49 bridge in Lafayette, the Baton Rouge I-10 bridge and the Lake Charles I-10 Bridge. The DOTD is giving the Lake Charles bridge priority.

Going up against the 8,000 pound gorilla, the insurance companies, was a challenge, according to the senator. He sits on the insurance committee.

“Sixteen bills that I co-authored, plus my bills got passed into law,” he said.

We’re trying to not be too heavy handed with these insurance companies. I’m sure you’ve seen in the news where they’re leaving the state. The challenge is to strike the right balance, deter the bad actors.

Senate Bill 212 created and provided for a hurricane mediation program that could save property owners time and money. Instead of taking their claims to court, they’d head to mediation for claims not more than $50,000. It’s based on Emergency Rule 22, put in place after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita bottlenecked courts with claims. Twelve thousand claims moved quickly through the system.

“My bill codified it instead of leaving it at the discretion of the commissioner of insurance, whoever that may be, and it will be triggered the moment the governor declares a state of emergency.

A study resolution will allow the state to see how heavy handed legislators should get with penalties by supplying data about how large lawsuits have impacted industry.  Another bill will see property owners receive information immediately after they begin a claim that will help give them a heads up on what to expect. The statewide claim’s adjuster database will make important credentialing and other information available to property owners.

Stine ended his presentation with beer and boats legislation.

Prior to this session, a brewery could not transport his beer from one location to the other. A person born after 1984 wishing to rent a jet ski or a pontoon boat would have to wait an entire day to do so in order to complete a class on boating.

Stine helped pass laws to free breweries across the state to be free of an archaic law and restrictions quite likely passed by special interest groups to benefit major distributors. Now persons 18 and older can take instruction from the boat rental company and review safety information before renting a craft.