2008 Regular Session . April 10, 2008
House Insurance Committee deferred two bills supported by State Farm and authored by the chair of the committee, Rep. Chuck Kleckley. HB 316 would have allowed an auto insurer to increase rates after the third nonfault claim. The bill ran into sufficient objection from committee members concerned about the prospect of seeing auto insurance rates increased through no fault of the insured and the chairman asked to voluntarily defer his bill.
HB 437, also by Rep. Kleckley, would have removed the $50 deductible that an insurer could impose following a third physical damage claim, allowing the insurer to impose an unlimited deductible. After hearing the committee's concerns that this left the potential increases open-ended, Rep. Kleckley asked to voluntarily defer his bill until he could consider whether an agreement could be reached on a reasonable amount for the cap.
A bill that has been voluntarily deferred can be brought back for consideration at a future meeting. We can expect HB 437 to be rescheduled with proposed amendments to set a cap. It is less certain that HB 316 will be brought back to the committee this session.
Immunities for Agritourism Activities
SB 163 by Sen. Francis Thompson creates immunities for agritourism professionals for injury or death of a participant in an agritourism activity as defined in the bill. This bill was originally referred to Senate Agriculture Committee where it was heard on Tuesday and reported out to the Senate floor. The Senate on Wednesday recommitted the bill to Senate Judiciary A, the committee that has subject matter jurisdiction over civil liability and procedural issues.
Rep. Andy Anders has a similar bill, HB 633, which was on Tuesday's agenda of Civil Law & Procedure, but was not heard at the author's request. This bill may come back up in Civil Law. If not, the SB 163 is likely to be referred to that committee if it passes the Senate.
Broadly defined, "agritourism activity" includes any activity carried out on a farm or ranch that allows the public, for recreational, entertainment or educational purposes, to view or enjoy rural activities, such as farming, ranching, historic, cultural, harvest-your-own activities or natural activities and attractions.
There is no definition of farm or ranch, so where are the limits to the scope of this immunity? Students on field trips, families at a Christmas tree farm, children at a petting zoo, hunters, young people at a carnival located in rural pasture? Read the bill and see if you can find accountability for the owner/operator of the agritourism activity.
The bill defines "inherent risks of agritourism activity" to include the potential for a participant to act in a negligent manner by failing to exercise reasonable caution.
Is this an issue that you care about? If so, look at the Jud A and Civil Law & Procedure committee rosters. Contact members of those committees and express your objections to these two bills.
LAJ Lobby Day, Tuesday, April 22
Plan now to attend LAJ Lobby Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 22. The Legislature includes lots of freshmen; many are non-lawyers. One-on-one contact is essential to let them know which issues are important to you and your clients. LAJ will provide breakfast, lunch and transportation to and from the Capitol. Be sure to invite your representative and senator to join us for lunch at the LAJ office. Invite your family members and office staff to participate in Lobby Day, too. Call the LAJ office at 800-354-6267 or 225-383-5554 for details of the day's itinerary.