The Sun Herald, 2/4/9

Hurricane Katrina-related insurance reforms are dead and lawmakers say a funding boost for the state wind pool would be very difficult this year, given the budget crunch, which some called the worst they’ve seen.

There is a push to pump another $60 million over three years into the state wind pool, a government-backed insurer of last resort for those on the Coast who can’t get standard homeowner insurance that covers hurricane wind damage. This would bring the total the Legislature would have earmarked for the pool to $140 million over four years. But the general bill that would have directed more money into the program died under a deadline for it to be passed out of committee late Tuesday, leaving lawmakers supporting it to try to get the funds for it during the state budget process. Coast leaders, including the Gulf Coast Business Council, have asked for the additional funds in hopes of lowering premiums.

Senate President Pro Tempore Billy Hewes III, R-Gulfport, said the already-set-aside $20 million for this year, which is part of an $80 million allotment approved a few years ago, is currently still in the state budget, but securing any additional money, as asked for in the GCBC proposal, might be tough because of tight finances.

“This is as tight as I’ve ever seen it,” Hewes said of the budget.