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Advocates for Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance charged Thursday that a fast-moving Senate bill would destroy the state’s unique system of unlimited coverage for victims of the most profound crash injuries.
“The intent is to give relief to some of the mist profitable corporations in the world,” said Coalition Protecting No-Fault Insurance President John Cornack, referring to auto insurance companies.
A bill introduced March 26 by Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, was passed by the committee he chairs after a single hearing Wednesday and was ready for a vote on the Senate floor as soon as Thursday.
It would replace the current Catastrophic Claims Association, which pays for injury treatment costing more than $530,000, with a new entity headed by a governor-appointed seven-member board. That care is funded by an annual assessment tacked on to each insured vehicle owner’s auto insurance premiums.
Hune said his bill is intended to relieve insurers of liabilities that are harming their financial ratings. It also calls for a fee schedule under which payments to health care providers for crash injury treatments would be based on rates for workers compensation injuries.
Insurers for years have blamed unlimited coverage for highly-costly crash injuries for Michigan’s relatively high auto insurance premiums.
Michigan is the only state to require drivers to purchase unlimited personal injury coverage. The state with the next highest mandatory benefit, New York, requires at least $50,000 of personal injury coverage.
Cornack’s group argues Michigan’s no-fault system, while needing some changes, essentially is working exactly the way lawmakers intended when they set it up 43 years ago.
For the full article, see Gary Heinlein, "Fight brews over fast-moving no-fault reform bill", Detroit News, April 16, 2015.
Before this year's budget negotiations kicked off, state legislators understood the estimated liabilities for these credits to be $6.5 billion. But the Michigan Strategic Fund Board, which now controls the credits, had over the course of several years issued amendments to help some companies meet the requirements for the credit, leading to the revised $9.38 billion figure.
Rep. Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, and Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, introduced two bills that would attempt to freeze that liability by prohibiting the state from entering into new MEGA agreements with these businesses or modifying an existing agreement in a way that would cost the state money.
For the full article, see Emily Lawler, "Bills could stop Michigan's $9.38B MEGA tax credit liability from growing", MLive, April 16, 2015.
Gov. Rick Snyder said Thursday he's working with Mayor Mike Duggan on reforms to the state's auto insurance laws that would help lower the high costs of premiums for Detroiters.
"The mayor and I have had a lot of different discussions on insurance," Snyder said a Pancakes & Politics breakfast forum at the Detroit Athletic Club. "We've got to do something to improve the cost of auto insurance, particularly in Detroit. It's tough, harder than anyone would like."
The governor later declined to detail any specific proposals he and Duggan are working on.
For the full article, see Chad Livengood, "Snyder, Duggan working on Detroit auto insurance reform", Detroit News, April 16, 2015.
Ron French, "Is state’s defense of prison rape lawsuit another $100 million gamble?" : Critics question the state’s aggressive defense of a lawsuit by young inmates who say prison officials failed to protect them from sexual assaults. An earlier suit by women inmates cost the state $100 million, far more than taxpayers would have paid had the state settled the case earlier.
Ted Roelofs, "What NOT to post on Facebook: Jokes about prison rape, when you’re in charge of preventing prison rape" : A social media post by a prison rape coordinator may serve to underscore allegations that the state is insensitive to young inmates’ rape claims.
Ron French, "A program to give young offenders a second chance is sending many to prison" : A program meant to help young, nonviolent offenders get back on track is instead sending more to prison, where they say sexual assault is rampant.
Bridge Staff, "Where in the world is the Center for Michigan?" : Join us for a Community Conversation about “Getting to work: Opportunity and hurdles to success in Michigan”
Former Michigan U.S. Sen. Robert Paul Griffin, a key Republican congressional leader during the Watergate crisis of the 1970s who helped prod President Richard Nixon to resign, died at his home in Traverse City.
Griffin, a staunch Republican, was elected to the U.S House in 1956 at age 33 and was appointed in May 1966 to fill the Senate seat of Patrick McNamara. Griffin twice was elected to the Senate on his own right, and was GOP whip from 1969-77. After announcing he wouldn't seek re-election — and then changing his mind — he was defeated by Democrat Carl Levin in 1978; Levin went on to become Michigan's longest-serving senator.
Born in Detroit, Griffin attended school in Garden City and Dearborn. He served in World War II in the U.S. Army, including 14 months in Europe. He graduated from then-Central Michigan College in Mount Pleasant and got a law degree from the University of Michigan.
While in the Senate he served on the Judiciary, Foreign Relations and Finance committees, and played a key role on many judicial matters, including thwarting President Lyndon Johnson's nomination of Abe Fortas for Supreme Court chief justice.
In one of his last big decisions on the Michigan Supreme Court, he joined a 5-2 majority in December 1994 in ruling it was constitutional to make assisted suicide a crime — a setback for assisted suicide practitioner Jack Kevorkian.
One of his key achievements in Congress was helping win approval of the 1959 Landrum-Griffin Act, which helped establish democratic principles in union government and finances.
Griffin co-authored the act with Democratic U.S. Rep. Phil Landrum of Georgia. Signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower, it strengthened the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.
For the full article, see David Shepardson and Gary Heinlein, "Former Michigan U.S. Sen. Griffin dies at 91",Detroit News, April 17, 2015.
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