Houston’s slow moving insurance crisis

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in Insurance | 0 comments

After Hurricane Harvey, the Texas insurance industry will really be put to the test. While the government has pledged a great deal of money to rebuild infrastructure, many homeowners will rely on their insurance to rebuild their homes. With extreme flooding damaging homes up and down the coast and especially around Houston, that is sure to put a strain on insurance company resources.

This issue will further be complicated by an unexpected factor: the lack of construction workers to do the rebuilding. According to Vox, much of the major rebuilding that took place in New Orleans after Katrina was done by undocumented workers. With recent crackdowns on that workforce, and with a very low unemployment rate, construction companies are struggling nationwide to find enough workers.

What workers they can find will cost more than most companies are used to paying as well, since undocumented workers were obviously cheaper to hire.

All that means that the situation in Houston will be, as Vox put it, “ripe for exploitation.”

That exploitation may take different forms. It may mean, as in New Orleans, paying people (even legal American workers) to do dangerous work for little pay (that is if they can find them). It may also include, and this is at least as likely, a conscious effort to appraise property at its actual value. Appraisers on the ground in Texas will have a heavy burden reappraising for clients after the initial valuation placed by the insurance companies. The importance of this job cannot be overstated for the coming years. Should insurance companies fail to meet the true value of a victim’s home, they may never receive enough compensation to rebuild their homes at all.

It seems highly likely, unfortunately, that just like in the case of Katrina, the federal government is woefully behind on what is required for the situation. Just as the Katrina response was famously slow, so Congress has been slow now to approve the necessary funds to get a strong start on the recovery. Having approved only $8 billion in aid (when an estimated $180 billion will be needed), the government looks as likely to cut corners as the insurance companies, leaving Houston in a very tough position indeed.

With aid needed elsewhere as well (specifically, in southern Florida and Puerto Rico), Houston, despite being the fourth biggest city in the country, may find itself a lower priority in the near future. Should another major storm hit either this year or next, it is hard to say how much more aid can be counted on at that point.

Which leaves Houston with a major crisis, one far slower in coming than Harvey. It may be years yet before Houston is aware that the insurance companies and the government have failed to meet obligations, and that the former is near bankrupt, and the latter is too busy to help.

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Will Pot Be Legalized in the Northeast?

Posted by on Oct 6, 2017 in Criminal defense | 0 comments

For many people in New England (and, let’s face it, across the country), the question of legalizing marijuana has been raised repeatedly over time, but now the chorus is getting louder. After seeing the success of states like Colorado who have legalized marijuana and have seen tax revenues and industry explode as a result, lawmakers in Rhode Island have actually taken another step toward legalization by creating a commission to explore the possibility of legalizing pot in the state.

According to a news report in the Providence Journal, nineteen panelists were selected by the General Assembly to explore the possibility and feasibility of legalizing marijuana in the state. The resolution was drafted in June and the panelists are supposed to deliver their recommendations to the assembly by March 1st. The committee begins meeting this month, in October. According to the new

According to the Journal’s story, commission members include state and local lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, members of substance abuse counsels and organizations, chamber of commerce officials, a medical marijuana patient, a criminal defense lawyer, and a therapist, among others. It is clear that the panel was designed to represent individuals across a broad spectrum of disciplines and social approaches to provide balance and thought to the discussion of legalization.

While citizens wait for the panel’s final decision, individuals who are arrested for possession of marijuana still may face criminal prosecution as a result. Depending on the situation, the individual’s criminal history, and the amount of marijuana in their possession, individuals may face heavy fines and even jail time if they are apprehended by law enforcement with pot on them.

If marijuana were to be legalized in Rhode Island, Cape Cod, or anywhere in New England, these issues would clearly become obsolete for many people, especially those who are charged with minor infractions, like possessing a small amount of weed. Personally, I feel that our jail system and the huge issue of overcrowding would be helped tremendously if people were not jailed for minor offenses. By legalizing marijuana especially (which I personally think is harmless, but that is a debate I’ll save for another blog post) it is hard to argue that we can alleviate some of the stress and strain on our already overwhelmed legal system.

Attorneys in the Northeast tend to agree, like this criminal defense attorney that I found through a Google search for defense attorneys in the Northeast, James Powderly. His firm represents individuals in Massachusetts who were charged with crimes ranging from serious offenses like assault, burglary, and murder, to non-violent offenses like possession of marijuana. Criminal defense attorneys routinely represent clients who are facing criminal charges for offenses that in other states in the U.S., (we’re looking at you, Colorado and Washington) are completely legal activities, and are relatively harmless.

In Rhode Island, lawmakers are at least making progress by discussing the possibility of legalizing marijuana so that people will not have to suffer the consequences of possessing the drug for personal, recreational use, an activity that I have made plainly clear on this blog many times, is something that I personally do not have an issue with at all. Maybe other states in the area, like Massachusetts and New York will follow suit if Rhode Island legalizes marijuana?

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