North Texas Legislators Call for Insurance Reform

homeowner_insState Reps. Kent, Miklos and Turner respond to recent rate hikes by Texas’ largest insurance provider

AUSTIN – Today State Representatives Carol Kent, Robert Miklos and Chris Turner renewed their call for comprehensive insurance reform in light of last week’s announcement that State Farm, Texas’ largest homeowners insurance provider, will raise rates by 4.5% in May, just seven months after an 8.8% rate hike. This comes on the tail of recent rate increases by both Allstate and Farmers Insurance.

“Most families in North Texas haven’t seen their incomes go up by double digits this year, yet these big insurance companies think it’s ok to increase their premiums by double-digit percentages,” said Representative Chris Turner (HD 96-Burleson). “With Texans already paying the second highest homeowners insurance rates in the nation, this is unacceptable.”

In November, Allstate announced a 9.8% jump in their homeowner’s insurance rates. In January, Farmers Insurance, the third largest insurance company in the state, proposed raising rates 10% statewide and 11% for North Texas area customers. According to the Dallas Morning News, after Texas Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin called the hikes, “excessive and discriminatory,” Farmers agreed to only increase their rates by 4.5%. However, the company will be allowed to charge the excessive rate through March 2011 and keep the premiums they have already overcharged.

Currently, insurance companies are required to notify the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) of rate increases, but TDI has no authority to block these rate hikes.

“The insurance commissioner should have the power to stop outrageous rate increases,” said State Representative Robert Miklos (HD 101 – Mesquite). “By increasing their rates by double digits in less than a year, State Farm is sending a message that it is ok to for insurance companies to line their pockets at the expense of consumers.”

In an attempt to combat overnight rate hikes by insurance companies, legislation has been filed in the past to create a “prior approval” system, which would give TDI the power to approve or deny these rate increases and give the agency true oversight over this industry. Many of the filed measures would have allowed for increased public input when insurance companies ask to raise their rates.

“During the next Legislative Session, when TDI is up for sunset review, we need some common sense oversight to protect homeowners.” said State Representative Carol Kent (HD 102 – Dallas). “There are far too many North Texas families struggling to make ends meet in this economy, and raising their insurance rates over and over again will just make that struggle even harder.”

In late May, the Legislative Sunset Advisory Commission, comprised of six member of the Texas Senate and six member of the Texas House, will begin to review TDI. Once the review process is complete, the advisory committee will present its recommendations to the 82nd Legislature.

State Representatives Carol Kent and Robert Miklos represent Dallas County districts. Representative Chris Turner represents southern Tarrant County.

Vet lottery ticket sales top $5M in 1st month

Special to the Burleson – Crowley Connection | Dec 14, 2009

Sales of Veterans Cash, a scratch-off lottery ticket created to fund veterans’ programs, totaled more than $5.3 million during their first month of sales, said state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington.

The game launched on Nov. 9.

The Fund for Veterans Assistance will receive more than $1 million based on sales to date.

“I am thrilled to see that the initial veterans lottery game is off to such a great start,” Turner said. “With so many men and women returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq joining the ranks of the 1.7 million veterans in Texas, organizations that provide aid to veterans need resources now more than ever.”

The Texas Legislature created the FVA in 2007 to provide aid to veterans and their families in need.

The FVA was not funded by the Legislature until the lottery game was created this year.

Turner authored and passed legislation in the House to create the dedicated lottery game to benefit the FVA.

“In this season of sharing and helping those less fortunate among us, the people of Texas have proven once again that they support our active duty military, our veterans and their families by participating in the veterans scratch-off lottery ticket program,” said John Miterko, legislative liaison with the Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations. “The money that will go into the Permanent Fund for veterans assistance will provide much-needed help for our disabled veteran population and will go a long way in easing their burdens into the foreseeable future.”

With revenue from Veterans Cash, FVA will be able to provide grants to organizations who help veterans and their families who are in need of services, such as transportation to and from VA hospitals and clinics, job placement services and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Twenty-three percent of the sales go to the FVA. The remainder goes to prizes paid out, 65 percent, administration, 7 percent, and retailer commissions, 5 percent.
The Texas Lottery Commission estimates that Veterans Cash will raise about $9 million annually for FVA.

State Senators Chris Harris and Wendy Davis and State Representative Chris Turner Purchase First Veterans Cash Lottery Scratch-Off Tickets

New $2 Ticket Will Provide Much Needed Funding for Veterans’ Programs

ARLINGTON – Today State Senators Chris Harris and Wendy Davis and State Representative Chris Turner were joined by fellow legislators and veterans’ leaders at a press conference as they purchased some of the first Veterans Cash Texas Lottery scratch-off tickets to go on sale. Stores across the state began selling the ticket Monday, November 9, and the game will be in full circulation by Wednesday, November 11, Veterans’ Day. The proceeds from the ticket will benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans’ Assistance (FVA).

The FVA was created by Legislature in 2007 to aid those who served our nation in uniform, as well as their families. Since its creation, the fund has received very little financial assistance and as a result, organizations that aid veterans in need are having to look elsewhere for grants and funding sources.

“With the launch of this game today, we are saying ‘thank you’ to the men and women of our state who have risked so much in service to our nation,” said Rep. Turner, who pushed the Veterans Cash legislation through the House earlier this year. “The revenue from this game will provide meaningful funding for the Fund for Veterans’ Assistance to help provide grants for job placement services, health care costs and PTSD and TBI treatment for Texas veterans.”

“Texas is currently home to more than 1.7 million veterans who dedicated their lives and service in order to protect our freedoms,” said Senator Harris. “We, as Texans, owe these men and women as well as their families a great debt of gratitude. Veterans Cash will set up the stream of revenue enabling the Texas Veterans Commission, and all Texans, a way to say thank you for a job well done and welcome home.”

“I am thrilled to take part in the release of Veterans Cash which will create the greatly needed revenue source allowing Texas the ability to give back and take care of our returning veterans and their families, who have so selflessly given their service for our protection,” continued Harris.

“On behalf of veterans across the state, I cannot thank Senator Harris, Senator Van De Putte and Representative Turner enough for their hard work to pass the measure creating the Veterans Cash scratch-off and being tireless advocates for veterans and their families.” said John Miterko, Legislative Liaison, Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations.

The Legislative Budget Board projects that the single scratch-off game will mean an economic impact for the Permanent Fund for Veterans’ Assistance in the amount of approximately $9 million during the first full year it is in circulation.

During the 81st Legislative Session, HB 1299 by State Representative Chris Turner and its Senate companion, SB 421 by Senators Van De Putte and Chris Harris, were filed to create the lottery scratch-off game. HB 1299 passed the House with only minutes to spare and was eventually added to Senator Van De Putte’s SB 1655. The passage of legislation to create this scratch-off ticket has been a top priority for veterans’ organizations across the State of Texas.

New lottery benefits Texas veterans

Chris_1By  State Senator Chris Harris  and  State Rep. Chris Turner | Mansfield Mirror | Nov. 13, 2009

Texas is home to 1.7 million veterans, 240,000 of whom have served our nation in Afghanistan and Iraq in the past eight years. In 2007, the Texas Legislature created the Fund for Veterans’ Assistance (FVA) to provide funding for grants to aid veterans and their families during difficult times. However, there was no money directed to the fund, and it has been unable to serve its purpose.

During the most recent legislative session, we, along with State Senator Leticia Van De Putte, authored legislation to create a lottery scratch-off game, the proceeds of which will go directly to the FVA. We were proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with every major veterans organization in Texas to pass this important measure. The first Veterans Cash scratch-off game goes on sale this week, as we observe Veterans Day. The $2 game is projected to generate up to $9 million per year into the FVA. Why is this so important?

Our servicemen and women sacrifice so much for our freedom. Many have returned from war suffering from mental and physical wounds that may never heal. And the families of our service members sacrifice greatly for our nation as well; the months and years that their spouses have spent overseas, the constant worry and anxiety they must feel knowing their loved ones are in harm’s way or knowing that their loved one is missing the special moments in their children’s lives.

When funded, the FVA will provide grants to organizations that work directly for veterans and their families. Services that will be made possible include job placement programs, assistance with transportation to VA hospitals and clinics and help for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

As we remember the sacrifices and bravery of those in uniform this Veterans Day, we hope this new lottery game will make a difference in the lives of those who have served. We know this game will not repay the debt we owe our veterans who have served our nation in uniform — nothing can. We can’t put a price tag on the incredible sacrifices Texas veterans have made to protect our freedom. But hopefully with the launch of this game, we can provide our veterans some help they need and have more than earned.

State Rep. Chris Turner Receives Texas Veterans Commission’s Leadership Award

Major (Ret) Eliseo "Al" Cantu of the Texas Veterans' Commission stands with State Representative Chris Turner in front of a mock-up of the first Texas Lottery's Veterans Scratch-off game, which will be released on November 9, 2009. Also pictured are State Senators Leticia Van De Putte and Wendy Davis.

Major (Ret) Eliseo "Al" Cantu of the Texas Veterans' Commission stands with State Representative Chris Turner in front of a mock-up of the first Texas Lottery's Veterans Scratch-off game, which will be released on November 9, 2009. Also pictured are State Senators Leticia Van De Putte and Wendy Davis.

IRVING – Today State Representative Chris Turner was presented with the Texas Veterans Commission’s Leadership Award in appreciation for his efforts in passing the measure to create a lottery game to benefit Texas veterans. Turner was given the award after speaking to over 500 people attending the Texas Veterans Commission annual statewide training conference in Irving.

Texas Veterans’ Commission Executive Director James E. Nier  presented Turner with the award, which reads: “His leadership on veterans’ issues has inspired the respect of the entire veterans’ community… his capable, diligent and continued leadership in the Texas House has enhanced the lives of Texas veterans and their families.”

“I am honored and humbled by this recognition, ” Turner said.  “The passage of the veterans lottery bill was a testament to the hard work of every veteran organization in the state, and I am just happy I could be part of this important effort that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of many veterans across Texas.”

Eventually amended to Senate Bill 1655, Turner’s House Bill 1299 created a single scratch off lottery ticket to benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans’ Assistance (FVA).  The FVA will provide grants to aid veterans and their families in times of financial need and support PTSD counseling and other veterans’ services.  The lottery ticket will be released on November 9 and the expected revenue will be over $8 million per year. This one was on the top priorities for veterans’ organizations in Texas.

Turner, who was named “Freshman of the Year” by the bipartisan House Veterans Caucus, also passed legislation requiring institutions of higher education to designate a financial aid specialist to be trained on issues related to veterans’ programs, including the GI Bill and the Hazelwood Act.  He was also the House sponsor of legislation allowing state employees who are members of military reserves or National Guard to continue to accrue their sick and vacation leave time while they are on active military duty.

New lottery game to benefit Texas veterans

By AMY JOHNSTON | KVUE News | October 19, 2009

Click here to watch the video. About 1.7 million veterans live in Texas, but the state doesn’t have enough money to meet all their needs. Monday, a new way to raise money was announced, and the Legislature is gambling that a new lottery game will pay big.”

Monday, a new way to raise money was announced, and the Legislature is gambling that a new lottery game will pay big.

At the Zip’n in North Austin, the lottery is big business.

“Mostly we sell the $10 (or) $20 tickets,” said Salim Mardia.

Scratch-off tickets are especially popular — from one dollar up to $50, according to Mardia.

Now the Legislature is banking on that popularity to help Texas veterans. On Monday, they unveiled a new $2 lottery ticket called Veterans Cash. Part of the money goes back to the state’s Permanent Fund for Veteran’s Assistance.

“We could help more veterans with transportation assistance to hospitals. We could help fund PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) counseling services that are so crucial especially to many of our younger veterans. We could do more to reduce the shame of homeless veterans,” said State Rep. Chris Turner.

Ticket sales are expected to generate about $8 million in revenue in its first year. Here’s where money that will go: 65 percent to prizes; 5 percent to retail commission; 7 percent to administrative costs; that leaves 23 percent of sales — about 46 cents per ticket — for the Fund for Veteran’s Assistance.

Rep. Chris Turner Receives Endorsement of Texas’ Largest Police Officers’ Organization

With CLEAT Endorsement and Fundraising Success, Turner Starts 2010 Election Cycle Strong

cleatArlington – Today, State Representative Chris Turner received the endorsement of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT). This endorsement comes just weeks after Turner was named “Freshman of the Year” by both Texas Watch, a pro-consumer group, and the bi-partisan Legislative Veterans Caucus.  Combined with these recognitions and the Turner Campaign’s impressive fundraising  — the campaign already has over $100,000 in the bank — the CLEAT endorsement is the latest indication that Turner begins the 2010 election cycle with strong support and momentum.

“During the 81st Legislative Session, Chris Turner stood by Texas police officers and never stopped working on our behalf,” said Charley Wilkison, CLEAT Political Director. “Now we are standing strong with him during his bid for re-election in 2010. We need Chris Turner to remain in office to continue to be a strong voice for the law enforcement community in Southern Tarrant County and across our state.”  With over 15,000 members across Texas, CLEAT is the largest police officers’ association in the state.

“I am honored and humbled to have received CLEAT’s endorsement,” said Turner. “Since I was elected, I have made it a priority to work hard for the families of Southern Tarrant County, including the men and women who protect our families and our communities day in and day out.”

Turner joint authored legislation requiring homeless sex offenders to register with local law enforcement once every two weeks. Oftentimes sex offenders evade registration by claiming to be homeless in order to live in locations prohibited by their sentence, including in the home of their victim. This legislation will aid in protecting families and children from dangerous sexual predators. He also authored legislation requiring computer technicians to report the discovery of child pornography found during the course of their job duties. This measure had strong support from law enforcement and passed the House, however it failed to pass in the Senate.

Turner was elected in 2008 to serve Southern Tarrant County’s House District 96, which includes Crowley, Kennedale, and portions of Arlington, Burleson, Mansfield, and Fort Worth. During the 81st Legislative Session, Turner was appointed to serve on the House Committee on Urban Affairs and the House Committee of Defense and Veterans’ Affairs.

Turner Named “Freshman of the Year” by the Bi-Partisan Legislative Veterans Caucus

As a result of Turner’s effective work on veterans’ issues, the bipartisan Veterans’ Caucus named Turner its “Freshman of the Year” for the 81st Legislative Session.

“I am humbled to have received this tremendous honor from my colleagues, and I intend to keep fighting for Texas veterans and their families,” Turner said.

Turner passed several key measures to aid Texas veterans and their families:

Turner filed and passed legislation that will generate up to $14 million over the next two years to pay for critical services for Texas veterans. This measure, which establishes a dedicated lottery scratch-off game to benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans Assistance, was a top legislative priority for leading veterans’ organizations.  Services that will be made possible with this bill include PTSD counseling, transportation assistance to VA health care facilities and job placement assistance.

Turner also passed legislation that will help ensure that our veterans and their family members are able to take full advantage of the educational benefits which they have earned by guaranteeing that there is a trained veteran’s aid specialist at every public Texas college and university.

Turner successfully passed legislation to allow state employees who take a leave of absence for military service to continue to accrue vacation and sick leave.

Finally, Turner’s measure to expand the Hazelwood college financial aid program to the spouses of service members who are killed or completely disabled as a result of their service is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

“With over 1.7 million veterans in Texas, I was honored to fight for our veterans to ensure that they receive the benefits they have earned and deserve,” said Turner. “With thousands of Texans fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, we must do all we can to make sure that they will receive the help they need when they return home.”

Chris Turner: Legislative Highlights (81st Legislature)

Giving Back to Texas  Veterans and Their Families

  • capitol1Because of his work on issues affecting veterans and their families, Turner was named the bi-partisan Legislative Veteran’s Caucus “Freshman of the Year.”
  • Given the “Leadership Award” by the Texas Veterans Commission.
  • Turner authored H.B. 1299 which will create one scratch off lottery ticket to provide an estimated $8 million annually for critical and emergency aid to Texas veterans through the Fund for Veterans Assistance. The bill passed the House and was ultimately amended to a Texas Veterans Commission bill.
  • Turner authored H.B. 1636 which ensures that all state employees who are called to active military duty are able to continue to accrue their vacation and sick time and do not lose these benefits because they were deployed. The bill was the House companion to Senator John Carona’s S.B. 833, which Turner sponsored.
  • Turner authored and passed H.B. 3951 requires state colleges and universities ensure a professional in their financial aid office is familiar with and trained on the major educational benefits available to veterans.
  • Turner authored H.B. 3952 extending the Hazelwood Act to the spouses of Texas military members who are killed in the line of duty or left completely disabled. Turner amended the measure to S.B. 93.
  • Turner added an amendment to H.B. 1935 which establishes the Jobs and Education for Texans Grant Program. The amendment will ensure that those organizations that have programs benefiting veterans will be given priority in the grants awarding process.

Fighting for Consumers and Small Business

  • For his efforts on behalf of consumers, Turner was named “Freshman of the Year” by the non-partisan pro-consumer organization, Texas Watch.
  • Turner authored H.B. 995 which passed the House Committee on State Affairs unanimously (15-0) and was later amended onto another House Bill. The legislation will require retail electric providers to give their customers at least 30 days written notice that their fixed price electric contract is expiring.
  • For his efforts on behalf of consumers, Turner was named “Freshman of the Year” by the non-partisan pro-consumer organization, Texas Watch.
  • Turner filed several pieces of legislation protecting homeowners from unfair practices by the insurance industry.

Improving Our Public Schools & Helping Texas Universities  Excel

  • Turner co-authored H.B. 3646, which will provide an additional $1.9 billion in school funding and increase the equity among school districts.
  • Turner co-authored H.B. 51, the “Tier One” bill, which opens the door for “emerging research universities,” such as the University of Texas at Arlington, to become a “Top Tier” research university.

Shielding Our Families from Sexual Predators

  • Turner authored H.B. 2396 will require sex offenders who claim to be homeless to register with their local law enforcement agency every 2 weeks. The bill was combined with an identical piece of legislation during the committee process and was signed into law by Governor Perry.
  • Turner authored and passed out of the House legislation requiring computer technicians to report the discovery of child pornography to law enforcement.  This measure had strong support from law enforcement, but unfortunately the bill died in the Senate.

Supporting Texas Businesses and Cutting Taxes

  • H.B. 1637 made improvements to the shared work unemployment compensation program, making it possible for many of our large manufacturers and other employers who operate on swing shifts to take advantage of this state program. Turner passed this bill on the first day the House considered legislation.
  • Turner co-authored H.B. 4765 which will exempt small businesses with less than $1 million of revenue from paying Texas franchise taxes.
  • Turner co-authored H.B. 831 which would exempt Chambers of Commerce from paying ad valorem taxes on property they owned and used for their primary functions.


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