INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: Assembly Committee Backs Judge Low
Retired appeals court Judge Harry Low yesterday "cleared the first legislative hurdle" to replace former Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, as a special Assembly committee unanimously approved his nomination, the San Jose Mercury News reports. After the "biggest political scandal to hit Sacramento in years," Quackenbush resigned last month when it became apparent that the state Legislature would likely impeach him. During yesterday's hearing, legislators questioned Low for 85 minutes, and a series of witnesses, including state Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) and former Secretary of State March Fong Eu, praised Low for his "integrity, honesty and intelligence." Low told the committee that he would not accept political contributions while in office and is leaning away from running for the position in 2002. He also said that "protecting consumers would be one of his top priorities," but some committee members "pressed him for assurances that he would be more than an impartial mediator of the insurance industry" (Nissenbaum, 8/23). Low added that the "laws are ... directed toward the protection of consumers and [he] intend[s] to enforce the laws," although he acknowledged "as commissioner you must be fair to everyone, and that includes businesses." But Doug Heller of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said, "He still has not promised the consumer that he will be there for them. He has a huge move to make toward the position of being an advocate rather than a judge. He's no longer a judge" (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/23). Low will appear before a state Senate committee today and "is expected to be approved by both houses" when the current legislative session concludes next week (San Jose Mercury News, 8/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.