AM Capitol Alert: Chicken Suits and Spending Cuts

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Proposition 17 is up for a public airing at a joint hearing of the Assembly Insurance Committee and the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee.

That would be the Mercury Insurance -funded ballot measure that would allow insurers to take a motorist’s coverage history into greater consideration when determining rates.

Supporters say the move would allow companies to offer premium discounts to drivers who maintain continuous coverage but want to switch policies, increasing competition and lowering prices for all.

Opponents, led by Consumer Watchdog founder Harvey Rosenfield, point out that the change would also allow companies to raise rates for drivers who experienced a lapse in coverage.

The campaign so far has been dominated by clashes over what exactly the measure would do, including challenges over language in both sides’ ballot arguments and the measure title and summary. (A judge ultimately rejected most challenges, but ruled that a clause saying rates could go up could remain in the ballot language.)

In the latest crossfire, consumer advocates plan to hold a pre-hearing press conference with a man in a chicken suit to call attention to the fact that Mercury President George Joseph isn’t expected to show up in person to back the ballot measure his company is bankrolling.

Hey, a giant chicken is no Demon Sheep , but it’s sure to attract some attention under the dome.

(Assembly Insurance Committee chief consultant Mark Rakich said Mercury Insurance Vice President Robert Houlihan is expected to testify on behalf of the company. "We asked the proponents to speak and left it to their discretion whom they would send," he told Capitol Alert.)

Contact the author, Torey Van Oot, at: [email protected]

Consumer Watchdog
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