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Kill It - Special interests revive bad insurance reform

Published: June 20, 2013
The complete editorial can be found here: The Fayetteville Observer

Midnight Madness is early this year. It happens every year in Raleigh as the clock runs down on a legislative session and lawmakers rush to get the work done and go home. Often under cover of wee-hour darkness, mischief inevitably occurs. Usually, it's a sneak attack, a dramatic change in a bill that turns it into a gift to one special interest or another.

So it is with Senate Bill 180, a tweak in car-insurance regulations that would allow insurers to offer special discount programs to North Carolina drivers. Senators easily approved the consumer-friendly measure. They also killed a competing bill (sponsored by Fayetteville Sen. Wesley Meredith) that would have fundamentally changed the way this state regulates car-insurance rates. That bill made bigger insurance bills a certainty for this state's drivers, who enjoy the lowest rates in the South and the third-lowest in the nation.

But driving a stake through the heart of a bad bill doesn't mean it's dead. That's especially true when the measure is fueled by the deep pockets of a special-interest group, which in this case is a group of insurance companies and agents whose generous contributions have seized the ears of many lawmakers. So this week, an amendment appeared in a House committee that was reviewing the Senate insurance bill. It's even less consumer-friendly than the one rejected earlier this year, allowing almost unlimited increases in rates that Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin says he'll...

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