Development guru, lobbyist pan state decisions

Published 11:31 am Saturday, March 28, 2009

By Staff
Thompson, Hartkopf speak at Down East Republicans meeting
Staff Writer
CHOCOWINITY — Tom Thompson, director of the Beaufort County Economic Development Commission and president of N.C. 20, a coalition of North Carolina’s 20 coastal counties, implored Down East Republicans to fight the impending increase in coastal homeowners’ insurance rates at its monthly meeting Thursday night at Cliff’sassail state Seafood.
N.C. 20, responsible for bringing the fight against coastal stormwater regulations last year, and against the outlying landing field before that, is lobbying against the property insurance increases and increases to Beach and FAIR plan surcharges and deductibles.
Thompson acknowledged that the coalition is “outmanned and outgunned” in Raleigh, but encouraged Down East members to write to the state’s insurance commissioner and rate bureau.
The president of the coalition was candid about the lobbying effort.
The property insurance rate will be set at 6.5 percent in Beaufort County come May 1, the rate that was also set for neighboring counties Hyde, Washington and Craven.
The rate equates to $1,327 on a framed home valued at $150,000.
The increase in rates was approved by former N.C. Insurance Commissioner Jim Long on Dec. 18, eight days before he retired.
The approval was made after hearing rate suggestions from the N.C. Rate Bureau, an organization comprised of insurance companies throughout the state, Thompson said.
Thompson called the system for determining property insurance rates in the state “egregious.”
Fellow guest speaker Kathy Hartkopf also had harsh words for Raleigh decision-makers.
Hartkopf, a legislative lobbyist for FreedomWorks, a grassroots organization that recruits citizens to fight for lower taxes, less government and more freedom throughout the nation, criticized tax hikes by Gov. Bev Perdue on what are considered “sin taxes.”
Hartkopf believes the governor’s proposed $1-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes will negatively impact the state’s biggest cash-crop industry.
According to Hartkopf, there are more than 250,000 tobacco-related jobs in the state, many in danger with the proposed tax increase.