Fox 26 in Houston will be airing a story tonight on the problems that will result from failure to develop (thus far) a sensible bill reforming TWIA that has broad political support. I’ll be in it. The story is particularly timely in that today’s failure of the legislature to address the only bill to emerge from a committee on the subject, S.B. 1700, is further evidence that time is running out.
And, might this be the time to criticize the Houston Chronicle and make yet more people annoyed with me? Perhaps so. You can believe me on this issue, you can believe coastal legislators, or you can believe whom you want about the merits of various reform efforts, but everyone who has bothered to look understands that the financial troubles — some would call it insolvency — of the largest insurer on the Texas coast — right as hurricane season begins — is a pretty major issue. It affects tens of thousands of people in the Chronicle’s circulation area as well as hundreds of businesses and government bodies along the coast. And, if what I am saying is right — which might just possibly be the case — the insolvency of TWIA following a significant storm this summer is going to affect every single person in Harris and surrounding counties. Indeed, on this issue, I suspect, some legislators who don’t like my reform ideas very much would probably agree.
And what coverage has the Houston Chronicle offered on this issue? Nada. Zilch. Less than the Corpus Christi Caller with its far more limited resources. Less than even the Galveston Daily News. I know newspapers are really struggling right now and actually covering political news is a challenge, but I look at the Chron.com website right now and I see fascinating reports of a Fort Bend teenager bagging a large alligator, a story on the failure of an excellent restaurant to open in the Heights, and some local crime stories, but nothing on this issue. And it’s not just this way today. There has been silence from the Chronicle for the whole legislative session. If a local TV station can cover this story competently, so too can Houston’s major daily.
P.S. For newer readers of this blog, please do not take my difficulties with the failure of the Senate to take up S.B. 1700 as support for that bill. For reasons discussed elsewhere, I have serious problems with the bill. My point is that the status quo is a disaster waiting to happen. A seriously amended S.B. 1700 could become the framework for a two-year patch up of TWIA. But if things don’t happen really soon, there will be no opportunity to get a bill through both houses of the Texas legislature, let alone one that could be in place before September 1, 2013.