Archive for Sunday, October 29, 2006

Insurance commissioner candidates differ on AAA contract

October 29, 2006


Sandy Praeger

Sandy Praeger

Bonnie Sharp

Bonnie Sharp

Patrick Wilbur

Patrick Wilbur

Abortion was an underlying issue in this summer's Republican primary for state insurance commissioner, and driver's licenses have become an issue in the general election campaign.

Facing off in the Nov. 7 election are incumbent Sandy Praeger, a Republican and longtime Lawrence political figure, and Bonnie Sharp, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kan., who has served in the Legislature the past 10 years.

Also running is Libertarian Patrick Wilbur of Lawrence.

Praeger was challenged in her party primary, but she defeated Eric Carter, identified with the conservative wing of the GOP that opposes abortion rights.

The general election campaign has been low-key, but differences have arisen over the AAA office in Lawrence at 3514 Clinton Parkway.

The Kansas Department of Revenue contracted with the office to handle driver's license renewals for a pilot project.

But insurance industry lobbyists asked lawmakers to end the agreement, saying it offered unfair advantage to the auto club, which also offers auto insurance.

Praeger sided with the insurance industry, saying the situation "creates an unlevel playing field from a competition standpoint."

But Sharp said the agreement should remain in place because of the convenience it offers drivers.

Praeger said her most important priority is establishing balance between insurance companies and policyholders.

She said she was working on options to help Kansans find affordable health insurance, including ways to get small businesses into larger groups of employees to spread the health care costs of high-cost employees.

Sharp said, if elected, she would review every current statute and regulation on insurance and jettison "anything that doesn't help Kansans or places an unnecessary burden on insurers."

Wilbur said increased government bureaucracy was the primary factor driving the health-care crisis.


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