May 5, 2008

No Dream Tangerine

“I thought the bad weather was over, the skies began clearing and then a cloud came from the north and hail the size of tangerines started falling.”

—Dawson County (Texas) Sheriff Johnny Garza, describing violent thunderstorms that produced tornadoes, large hail and heavy rains over west and north Texas on April 23. Garza said parts of the town of Lamesa resembled a war zone after the storm. The worst losses appear to have occurred just north of Lamesa in Dawson County and later in the evening 300 miles away in southern Tarrant County near Crowley. Garza was in his patrol car when the hail smashed his front windshield. At least one auto dealership in Lamesa, Benny Body Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep had all of its 200 new and used vehicles damaged. Jackie Ringo, a former claims adjuster in Dawson County, said every homeowner in Lamesa may need a new roof. A tornado packing winds of up to 115 mph destroyed homes and knocked down trees in suburban Fort Worth. The Associated Press reported that it was the same tornado that hit Crowley, leaving a path of damage and debris less than a mile long and 100 yards wide, according to the National Weather Service. Four other tornadoes were confirmed from storms that swept across west and north Texas.

Can’t Get No Satisfaction

“You can’t go to any industry right now — whether it’s a hospital, a restaurant, a mechanic shop, anywhere — and say, ‘Are you satisfied with the workers that you’re going to hustle and get?’ They’ll say no.”

—Edward Rispone, chairman and CEO of Industrial Specialty Contractors LLC, a Baton Rouge-based electrical and instrumentation contracting company, commenting on proposals by Gov. Bobby Jindal aimed at increasing the number of skilled workers in the state. Jindal has proposed plans to overhaul the Louisiana Department of Labor in order to better align training programs and services to meet the needs of companies and get people into vacant jobs. The proposal is backed by business and labor leaders who claim there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the estimated 100,000 available jobs in the state. The workforce development programs are the focus of House Bill 1104 and Senate Bill 612.

A Great Place For Business

“State officials are committed to ongoing efforts to stimulate the economy, while driving down the cost of doing business in Arkansas. … Because of these investments in a stable workers’ compensation system, which is recognized as a prime economic development tool, rates are down and employers are finding Arkansas a great place for business.”

—Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Julie Benafield Bowman announced a decrease in workers’ compensation rates for her state effective July 1, 2008. Arkansas passed a workers’ compensation legislative reform package in 1993. Since then, Arkansas has experienced a steady decline in workers’ compensation costs. Including the current 12.8 percent decrease, rates currently are approximately 52 percent lower than in 1995. The insurance department said that despite declining rates, statewide premium volume has grown since 2001, indicating that wages and employment also grew during this period.

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Insurance Journal West May 5, 2008
May 5, 2008
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