“No member shall vote on any question in the result of which he is pecuniarily interested…”
For many members of the Mississippi House, this rule stands as a prohibition against self dealing, a reminder that those items of legislation that could mean personal profit for an individual member are to be avoided. As a practical matter, this rule requires members who stand to reap economic benefit from a pending bill to vote present. And then there’s newly-minted House Insurance Committee Chairman Gary Chism (R-Columbus).
Since entering the House in 2000, Rep. Chism, an independent insurance agent, has not allowed a single session to pass without introducing multiple bills requiring Mississippians to buy car insurance and punishing those who do not.
Here is a sampling of Rep. Chism’s employment security bills since 2000. Because many of you have work today, I’ll only include those bills where Chism is the primary author:
· Later dubbed the “No Pay-No Play Act”, HB 527, originally filed in 2000, limits recovery for the first $10,000 of bodily injury and the first $10,000 of property damage where an automobile owner or operator involved in an accident doesn’t have motor vehicle liability insurance. Identical measures were filed in 2001 (HB 506), 2002 (HB 374), 2003 (HB 280), 2004 (HB 1327), 2005 (HB 563), 2006 (HB 306), 2007 (HB 231)and 2008 (HB 254);
· HB 1506 (2002) is a measure that would allow a driver to be cited for failing to have motor vehicle liability insurance at a roadblock. A similar bill was filed in 2003 (HB 368). Also in 2003 Chism added a wrinkle to this proposal when he filed HB 1112, a bill that would have allowed a driver to be cited for failing to have an insurance card, not insurance mind you, an insurance card. This bill was filed again in 2004 (HB 513);
· HB 413 (2003) would have raised the statutory minimum for motor vehicle liability insurance. Similar bills were filed in 2004 (HB 530) and 2005 (HB 722);
· HB 1135 (2003) would have required the Department of Public Safety to conduct random checks to see if drivers were carrying motor vehicle liability insurance;
· HB 1207 (2003) would have created an incentive for law enforcement to issue tickets for failure to carry motor vehicle liability insurance by allowing the ticketing agency to keep 50% of the fine;
· A big idea guy, Rep. Chism filed a monster called the “Mississippi Consumer Choice in Vehicle Insurance Act” in 2004 (HB 529), 2005 (HB 217) and 2007 (HB 232). Free insurance consultation for the first person to explain all that this Act does;
· We couldn’t get Rep. Chism to pick up the torch for disallowing murderers to have their sentences suspended but he has been a tireless advocate for legislation preventing fines from failure to have motor vehicle liability insurance from ever being suspended. These bills were filed in 2004 (HB 1266), 2005 (HB 541), 2006 (HB 174), 2007 (HB 100), 2008 (HB 160), 2009 (HB 87) and 2010 (HB 5);
· HB 1368 (2005) would require the Department of Public Safety to maintain a database of uninsured motorists. This bill was filed again in 2007 (HB 254), 2008 (HB 3) and twice in 2009 (HB 41 and HB 99);
· HB 94 (2006) would require an applicant for a driver’s license to present proof of liability insurance before taking the exam; and
· The “Public Safety Verification and Enforcement Act”, HB 620 (2011), which would, among other things, require law enforcement to suspend an operator’s license when that person dropped motor vehicle liability insurance.
If you’re like me and assumed that a person so dedicated to the proposition that you carry motor vehicle liability insurance, would also want such insurance to pay claims when you become injured in a car wreck, you’re wrong. In 2003 (HB 647) and 2005 (548), Rep. Chism filed bills that would allow insurance companies to drop punitive coverage from their policies.
In summary, Rep. Chism has spent the balance of his time in the legislature working to require Mississippians to buy a product that he sells. He spent the rest of his time weakening that product so that the companies he represents could hold on to as much of those premium dollars as possible.
To discuss your motor vehicle liability insurance needs with a trained professional, you may contact Rep. Chism at his insurance office in
by clicking here. Columbus