Honorable Mention

John Smithee (Republican, Amarillo)

Nobody bumped into more obstacles on his way to passing an important bill than the balding, bespectacled, Mr. Magoo­like chairman of the House Insurance Committee, whose charge was to bring down homeowners’ rates without driving insurance companies out of Texas. It wasn’t going to be easy. First, a group of upstart free-market freshmen tried to wrestle the bill away. Then, while he was home for his daughter’s graduation, a conference committee deleted a consumer-friendly provision he favored requiring insurance companies to disclose management fees passed on to ratepayers. When the bill came to the House floor for final passage, Mr. Magoo had perfect vision. He passionately argued for state oversight of management fees and criticized the insurance companies that opposed it. Before he agreed to pass the bill, he got a commitment from Governor Perry that the issue would be on the agenda of an inevitable special session. Heading a committee notorious for caving to industry interests, he maintained his independence and integrity.

Also Honorable: Joe Deshotel (Democrat, Beaumont), Scott Hochberg (Democrat, Houston), Senator Steve Ogden (Republican, Bryan), Jim Pitts (Republican, Waxahachie), Senator Judith Zaffirini (Democrat, Laredo).

Tags: POLITICS

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