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Has No Fault Insurance “Reform” hit a dead-end? Reading the tea leaves from Snyder’s State of the State

January 17, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

Governor Snyder fails to mention No Fault insurance reform in his State of the State, but what does that really mean?

Gov. Rick Snyder State of the State

Last night, Gov. Snyder gave his State of the State address. He tackled many issues. But Gov. Snyder failed to mention No Fault insurance “reform” at all.

So, what does this mean?  What can we take away from last night, as Gov. Snyder completely failed to  mention  insurance reform?

Is it true, as his aide explained afterwards,  that he failed to mention it because he ran out of room to address the topic? I don’t think so. And if it is true, it’s very surprising, because he sure found time to mention a lot of other issues that frankly, made the State of the State very long and very difficult to sit through.

Or does the reason have more to do with election-year  politics? Is Gov. Snyder waiting until after the election because he knows how popular No Fault reform is in this state (to see how popular No Fault insurance is in Michigan, you can read this blog I wrote on it). Certainly, it would make election year fodder and would jeopardize a number of lawmakers – mostly Republicans – who support changing No Fault in this state.

I’ve written before  – and have been an outspoken critic – that current proposals such as HB 4612 are a cynical insurance industry wish-list, and that Michigan taxpayers and drivers get very little in return for giving up incredibly valuable insurance protections if they’re ever seriously injured in an automobile accident.

However, it’s a great deal for Michigan’s insurance industry. And in today’s world of unlimited corporate political donations after Citizens United, making the insurance companies happy is probably the only reason why lawmakers would want to support No Fault reform.  Insurance reform as it currently exists in proposed legislation like HB 4612 is terrible on every objective measure  for the people of this state.

So, is Gov. Snyder planning on re-visiting No Fault insurance reform after the election, because he doesn’t want Republican lawmakers to get punished?

If so, we could see another  naked and ugly political power play, just like the one that lawmakers and the governor executed recently with Machiavellian ruthlessness when they completely changed the Michigan Court of Claims. They did so overnight and without any opportunity for opposition from lawyers and the judiciary to be heard.

Overnight and with no advanced notice, Public Act 164 of 2013 changed the entire Court of Claims.  It literally took the power of the Court of Claims  away from the Lansing judges who previously presided over it, and located the Court of Claims in the Court of Appeals.  Specific judges from the Court of Appeals were then appointed to oversee it.  It also took immediate effect.

There has been a huge outcry by both judges and Michigan attorneys against this, and in the way in which it was done.  The law was passed in such a manner that there was no opportunity for any debate or opposition to be heard against it, including by the Negligence Section of the State Bar of Michigan.  It was a naked political power play, and an ugly one at that.

Could No Fault reform be next?

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