‘LaPolitics’: Tort reform speedbumps at Capitol

    Insurance Commissioner Tim Temple’s legislative agenda hit its first major roadblock last week in the Senate Judiciary A Committee, a place where tort reformers’ dreams often go to die.

    Gov. Jeff Landry has not spoken out against the automobile tort reform portion of Temple’s package publicly. But industry insiders detect the governor’s influence in last week’s decision by the committee to table or water down bills that supporters argue could move the needle on sky-high auto insurance rates.

    “On the property side, most of our legislation has gone through the full process with broad support,” Temple told LaPolitics. “The auto package is still being held up in Senate Judiciary A, but they still have time to pass it this session.”

    Reading the tea leaves of Jud A, the auto tort reform bills are likely done for the session, according to Will Green, president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry. That would be a surprise twist, given the support of Temple’s package in the House for both the property insurance portion and the automobile pieces.

    “Up until [last Tuesday] in committee, this has been a pretty overwhelmingly supported, and to a degree bipartisan, package of legislation,” Green says. “We can’t continue to pass piecemeal legislation that’s watered down, and continue to treat bullet holes with Band-Aids.”

    Boosters of the tort-and-deregulate agenda have been wary about where Landry stands on these tort reform bills, noting Louisiana’s new CEO is a pro-business Republican who was elected with trial lawyer support. Landry allies in Capitoland say they’ve received mixed signals on the issue at best, and a Fourth Floor spokesperson has not yet responded to emails asking about the governor’s positions.

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    Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com.