Gulf Coast Business Council, an Unregistered Lobbying
Organization, Plans More Lobbying this Year
According to a WLOX news report, the Gulf Coast Business Council, a non-profit private organization based in Gulfport, plans to lobby the state legislature again this year for reforms in the state's wind pool insurance. Rising insurance cost are among the key factors in how, or even whether, the Coast can redevelop.
Since Katrina, insurance costs have more than tripled, making rebuilding expensive for both residents and businesses.
While efforts to get reforms in insurance in the state are important, the Gulf Coast Business Council is not a registered lobbying organization, though that is what its members often do. In the past, their director, Brian Sanderson, has told GCN that the private organization is actually not "lobbying," but advising and promoting issues of importance to the Coast. In a sense, shaping the issues for politicians.
The WLOX news report, titled, "GULF COAST BUSINESS COUNCIL READY TO LOBBY FOR NEW SESSION, which, by the way WLOX is a member of the private group who's membership is only by invitation, says the GCBC is going to "push hard for reform."
Directing the GCBC's "lobbying" efforts is Biloxi attorney Ron Peresich, who chairs the council's legislative and government committee. Keep in mind that the council is not a government agency or affiliated with any governing body but a private organization. Both the Sun Herald and WLOX frequently omit that the GCBC is a private organization in their reports. The Sun Herald is a member too.
Ron Peresich's expertise was described in a recent Sun Herald news story, published January 2, 2008, "THREE COAST LAWYERS HONORED." The newspaper described Peresich's expertise as "His practice areas are mass torts, products, toxic torts, pollution, commercial litigation and insurance defense."
In the WLOX story, Peresich said:
"There is still more to be done. One of the things we want to do this year is pretty expansive, really. We want to try to organize a group of coastal states, not just Mississippi, to get together and see if we can't come up with a common proposal, not only to the governmental entities, but also to the insurance industry."
The Business Council, WLOX reports, will also focus rebuilding the coast economy. One goal is to convince lawmakers they made a mistake by leaving casinos out of a tourism tax incentive passed last year to build more amusement parks and golf courses.
The GCBC is seen by many as a specialized group that actually represents a few powerful area businesses. Its membership includes some 180 people including public officials from the three Coast counties, but they are only ex-officio non-voting members. The group is criticized by some businesses and local politicians as acting as if they deserve credit for the work of others.