The Oregon Legislature has adjourned. PIA Oregon Lobbyist, Lana Butterfield and her government relations committee worked very, very hard to defeat some ill-conceived, and ill-advised, and potentially damaging legislation — legislation pushed by trial lawyers.
“The insurance industry really dodged a bullet when HB 3242 (unfair claims settlement practices) was defeated by one ‘no’ vote in the last hour of the legislative session, which was a great surprise to many after a pitched battle with the trial lawyers,” Butterfield told Weekly Industry News.
One of the most important bills defeated in this session was the credit scoring ban HB 2920. It died early in the session.
“In fact, it never even got a work session partially due to PIA members’ fierce and determined opposition,” she said.
To use the terms “fierce and determined” is being modest.
At the end, PIA worked with other agent groups to protect agent interests during the conference committee process but it is your voice — that of the agents and members of the PIA Oregon — that mattered most.
As usual, the real problem for the independent agents of the PIA and the insurance industry is are the always aggressive trial lawyers. “This session we were able to defeat both of their bills, which along or together would have been very harmful to the insurance industry and consumers,” Butterfield said.
And why? Again, because of the hard work of the independent agents of the PIA.
“PIA’s grassroots ability to communicate with legislators and committee members was instrumental in that success, as was your willingness to testify in public hearings, either in writing or in person,” she said, “We couldn’t have done it without you. Your voice really counts, and you delivered when it mattered.”
The fact that trial lawyers are a big part of the problem is not lost on many in the Oregon Legislature.
Suzanne Weber is a Republican senator from Tillamook, Oregon. She and Republican Sen. Dick Anderson of Lincoln City, Oregon and Sen. Daniel Bonham of The Dalles, Oregon all say that trial lawyers and their push for profits are at the heart of the problem.
And that’s not only for the insurance industry but for consumers.
“Oregon already has one of the strongest consumer protection statutes in the nation when it comes to insurance,” Weber told the Oregon Catalyst. “We need to be honest about what this bill (HB 3242) is about: lining the pockets of trial lawyers. It is a recipe for frivolous lawsuits.”
Anderson agrees. “We already know the challenges with our clogged court system — we have discussed it many times this session,” he added from the same interview. “House Bill 3242 is not a good deal for consumers and will only further burden our struggling justice system.”
Bonham says the agenda of the trial lawyers isn’t helping anyone.
“Proponents of House Bill 3242 proclaim that it will benefit consumers, but in reality, it will cost consumers and fill the pockets of their attorneys,” he noted. “After two nearly two years of skyrocketing inflation, the last thing we should be doing is raising costs for Oregonians.”