Episode three: How do Texans rebuild in the wake of catastrophe? After devastating storms ravage their homes, businesses, and churches, many Texans faced a second storm: dealing with their insurance company. This month, we talked to policyholders about SB1628, the insurance industry’s effort to erode the last line of defense for policyholders against low, slow, or no payments on their valid claims. Then Executive Director Alex Winslow explains how the bill could negatively impact all Texans.
Gov. Rick Perry gave his farewell address before a joint session of the legislature today. He touted his record of severely restricting access to legal accountability, pointing specifically to sweeping 2003 legislation that closed the courthouse doors for countless Texans.
Even as he exits the stage, Gov. Perry is a cheerleader for his broken special interest policies that shield polluters, dangerous doctors, makers of dangerously defective products, and big insurance companies from accountability for needless physical and financial harm.
Despite his rhetoric, Perry’s policies have not resulted in better health care, lower insurance costs, or safer communities. Instead, Texas families face new dangers that threaten their physical and financial safety. Whether it is nursing home neglect, junk insurance policies, unsafe toxic chemical facilities, or a host of other looming threats, Texans are less safe.
So-called tort ‘reform’ has never been about helping families. It has always been about protecting narrow interests from accountability.
Texans need real accountability and safety reforms that restore the Constitution’s guarantee of public accountability and ensure all Texans have the ability to thrive in the Texas economy.
As our state’s economy thrives and our population booms, Texas families and communities face new threats to their physical and financial safety. We call on lawmakers to take steps during the 84th Legislature to help Texans thrive in our Texas economy by adopting a Safe Texas Agenda.
“The freedom to raise a family, build a business, and thrive in the Texas economy is only possible if our citizens’ physical and financial safety is protected,” said Alex Winslow, executive director of the citizen advocacy group Texas Watch. “So, priority one for lawmakers should be to adopt common sense steps to put the safety of Texas families and small business owners first.” (more…)
A sharply divided Supreme Court of Texas handed down an opinion today that is devastating for workers exposed to cancer-causing asbestos. In Bostic v. Georgia-Pacific, the Court creates an exceptionally high causation standard for asbestos-related cancer cases, effectively blocking many workers and their families from having their day in court. (See Case No. 10-0775, majority, concurrence, dissent.)
Alex Winslow, Executive Director of Texas Watch, a citizen advocacy organization active on civil justice issues, stated:
“The Texas Supreme Court is closing the courthouse doors for workers who are going to die a terrible death simply because they showed up for work and did their job. This decision breaks the promise of meaningful accountability for workers who, through no fault of their own, were poisoned by asbestos-laden products. In the words of Justice Lehrmann, this opinion ‘does not just offend logic – it offends justice.'” (more…)
This edition of News of the Week includes stories about the safety of Texas hospitals, a proposal to end licensure requirements for many health care workers, a new report showing Texas near the bottom in long-term care quality, and the work safety hotline that wasn’t connected. (more…)
In this edition of the News of the Week, Greg Abbott shuts down access to information about hazardous chemical facilities, we have tips to get you ready for your summer road trip, OSHA issues a scathing report into a construction worker’s death at Kyle Field, and an Arlington man who had the wrong kidney removed seeks accountability in the courts. (more…)
Families who live and work near hazardous chemical facilities no longer have access to information about the type or amount of dangerous toxics in their community. According to a report by WFAA-TV, Greg Abbott recently issued a legal opinion barring the disclosure of such information despite federal law permitting disclosure and longstanding state practice to make that information available to anyone who requests it.
Abbott’s decision reflects an about-face from proclamations made by other state leaders to beef up disclosure of chemical facilities in the wake of last year’s disastrous explosion of an ammonium nitrate storage facility in West, Texas. (more…)
In this edition of the News of the Week: Senators take testimony on the response to the West disaster, the State Fire Marshal issues a report detailing ways to improve safety after West, nursing home residents face abuse and neglect at an alarming rate with little recourse for repeat offenders, and a video about the importance of class action lawsuits in protecting consumers. (more…)
The disaster last year in West, Texas has put a spotlight on gaping holes in the safety and accountability of industrial facilities that handle and store dangerously toxic materials like ammonium nitrate.
Lawmakers have spent the better part of the last year discussing whether and how to beef up oversight of these facilities, as well as how to ensure accountability if another disaster occurs. This is a public safety issue that requires reasonable and responsible reforms to ensure our communities, schools, and families are protected and are able to rebuild after a catastrophe. We know what the solutions are and they are pretty straight forward: Implement basic safety precautions and construction standards and require facility owners to have meaningful liability insurance so that communities have resources to rebuild. (more…)
Should local authorities be able to police polluters who poison the local water supply? Or should that authority be shipped to bureaucrats in Austin with a history of kowtowing to industries known to pollute the air and water?
That’s a no-brainer, right?
Well, lawmakers are holding a hearing today on just that issue. (more…)