Bill to bolster wind pool going to Barbour

By MICHAEL NEWSOM – mmnewsom@sunherald.com

The state Legislature has passed a bill containing an extra $20 million for the homeowners’ insurance wind pool.

The bill has $20 million in new money for the wind pool from a disaster-reserve fund, plus $18 million to finish previous legislative commitments to the program.

After Hurricane Katrina, many homeowners were unable to get coverage from the private insurers. For them, the state-backed wind pool insurance program was the only option.

Wind pool officials said in 2005 there were 16,000 policies. Now there are about 44,000.

About $187 million in federal and state money has been pumped into the wind pool since Katrina.

Gov. Haley Barbour’s spokesman, Dan Turner, said Thursday Barbour hasn’t seen the bill yet.

“That legislation hasn’t been delivered to the governor,” Turner said. “Once he gets it, he’ll review it and make a decision.”

Barbour has said the state doesn’t have the $20 million to spare from the fund because it owes the federal government a large tab for matching Katrina funds.

The governor has said he wants a focus on stronger construction in South Mississippi instead of the Legislature’s proposal to continue pumping money into the wind pool.

Some Coast lawmakers, including Sen. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, have said they don’t see the wind pool money and the FEMA home-strengthening program as an “either-or” proposition and want the state to take advantage of both.

House Insurance Committee Vice Chair Brandon Jones, D-Pascagoula, said he believes the appropriation will help stabilize wind pool rates.

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/04/22/2123720/bill-to-bolster-wind-pool-going.html#ixzz0lvClmAzW

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