The legislation passed the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee by a unanimous vote of 7-0 on March 6. Supporters are now encouraging the Calendar committee to have HB1131 sent to the House for a full vote before the session ends.
According to the sponsors, "The reason this came out of committee unanimously with over 80 co-sponsors is simple. Supporters of HB 1131 have heard and understood the truth about this bill. This bill does not close down competitive shops, cost jobs, eliminate consumer choice, or devalue the assets of any company. This bill promotes competition in independent and small businesses. The bill protects the consumer's choice when seeking autobody repairs. An insurance company that determines the allowable amount of auto claims should never own autobody shops performing the repairs associated with those claims. The insurance company in this conflicted relationship is obligated by fiduciary duty to its shareholders to pay the lowest possible repair bill for these repairs. The first duty is not to the customer."
A hearing is scheduled for the companion Senate Bill 435 in the Business and Commerce Committee for the week of March 17.
The Automotive Service Association (ASA) supports HB 1131 and SB 435.
Bill Haas, the Automotive Service Association (ASA) vice president of divisions, education and training, testifying at the March 6 hearing, said, "ASA is not opposed to direct repair programs, but when insurance companies move into the ownership of shops, the consumer loses. Keeping repair costs low has been the central focus of repair policy in the last few years."
Bob Redding, ASA's Washington, D.C., representative said, "We are very pleased with the outcome of the hearing and of the additions to the co-sponsor list. Policymakers continue to grow weary of consumers losing their rights in dealing with insurers.
"We believe this piece of legislation protects the quality of the repair and the consumers' right to choose in the repair marketplace," Redding said.