THE SOUTH »
Oklahoma Reins in Uninsured Drivers
Recent legislation in Oklahoma takes a new approach to reducing the number of uninsured drivers in the state, according to the Tulsa World. Estimates by the Oklahoma Insurance Department show that more than 550,000 vehicles in the state are uninsured, representing a loss of $8.8 million in tax revenue.
House Bill 1792, sponsored by Rep. Mike Christian and Sen. Corey Brooks, created the Oklahoma Temporary Motorist Liability Plan, a form of temporary vehicle liability insurance coverage for drivers whose license plates have been seized.
Under the new law, police officers have the authority to seize a license plate, instead of towing a vehicle, when a vehicle is uninsured. The officer then issues a citation that gives the driver 10 days of temporary liability insurance. The sheriff’s office holds license plates until drivers buy insurance and pay all fines and fees, including the cost of the temporary liability insurance. The law also allows the sheriff’s department to dispose of any unclaimed license plate after 90 days.
After 10 days, the vehicle cannot be used until the owner provides verification of compliance and pays in full a fee of $125. The Oklahoma Sheriffs Association disburses the fee to the county sheriff’s office, the law enforcement agency that issued the citation, the temporary insurance premium pool and the plan administrator. The fine for failing to comply with the compulsory insurance law is $250.
The new policy took effect in January.
GULF COAST AID
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann in November presented a $9.75 million check from the Public Trust Tidelands to the Department of Marine Resources and Mississippi Gulf Coast Legislative Delegation to benefit Gulf Coast residents. The funds will be used for programs and projects related to conservation, preservation, procurement, education and improvement of public access. According to the Hattiesburg American, the Mississippi State Legislature will disburse the funds with direction from the Coast delegation.
Louisiana recovered $238.1 million from more than 100 pharmaceutical companies as a result of litigation against the pharmaceutical industry since 2010, according to The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune. The final 25 companies involved in the lawsuit agreed in November to pay $88.4 million in the settlement. The state filed the lawsuit over unfair drug pricing in the Medicaid program.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has named 40 people to the state’s new task force created to help prevent and raise awareness about human trafficking, the Arkansas News reported. The State Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking was created under Act 133, known as the Human Trafficking Act of 2013. The legislation toughened Arkansas’ human trafficking laws and offered new protections to victims, as well as helped improve information gathering and information sharing among agencies with the goal of better identifying victims.
South Carolina is one state where home sales are on the rise. Sales of existing homes—which include single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums—have been positive throughout the year, with October showing a 5.2 percent gain from a year ago and year-to-date numbers up 19.4 percent. The Greenville News reported in November that the state is benefitting from a rising job market, low interest rates, and growth in industry and business, which contributes to consumer confidence. Nationally, existing home sales fell 3.2 percent in October from September.
The Georgia Supreme Court ruled in late November that a law Gov. Nathan Deal used to suspend members of the DeKalb County School Board was constitutional. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Deal suspended six of the nine members of the school board in early 2013 after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the district on probation. Deal told reporters he believed such a law should be used only in the most extreme circumstances.