Tuesday, 28 February 2006 09:00

Proponents now say AB 303 is moving forward

The Lazarus bill - AB 303 - appears to be making a miraculous recovery. Last month, the legislation was declared to be on life support, alive in committee as a technicality for "emergency purposes" only. Despite new statements to the contrary, there is still no written documentation regarding the renewed status of the legislation. 

Differing from his statement to Autobody News in the February edition, Adam Smith, legislative director for bill author Assembly-man Ron Calderon, stated that "There are amendments being drafted between opponents and proponents of AB 303 on advice of the staff counsel for the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance committee.

"These amendments haven't been reproduced for viewing. They must come to this office to be put in legislative council form. Thus far, the process is ongoing without Calderon's office participation at this time.

"The assemblyman's current position is that, with further conversations, there might be a need for the bill to make sure that if there is a Concierge program in California, Progressive will be subject to the regulations and consumer protections under the supervision of the Bureau of Automotive Re-pair (BAR)."

Smith agreed to transmit the amend-ments when they are finally made public.

Progressive's stance

Lobbyist for Progressive, John Norwood, Norwood and Associates, who did not comment in February's article, now states that Progressive has every intention of going forward in support of AB 303. There have been several meetings discussing amendments that will begin circulating shortly.

"We went through the testimony and held subsequent meetings to clarify issues that were not clear in the legislation. Questions arose about assuring that repairs would be done in a quality manner. Amendments will include specific standards that repairers would have to meet .

"Quite frankly," said Norwood, "these are the highest possible standards that all repair shops should meet, whether they are concierge programs or not."

Progressive's goal is to give the consumer the best possible repair experience. Amended language would require the consumer to be notified of any damages that appear during the repair process that could be a possible safety issue, so the consumer can have the option to make the repair.

The added language will make sure the consumer knows what parts are scheduled to be used on the car, giving the consumer the opportunity to request alternative parts if desired.

Norwood expressed that Progressive would like to have the backing of this legislation before opening a concierge program in California. "But the company is committed to going forward with this type of operation in California one way or another."

Hedging your bets

As previously reported, The Califor-nia Autobody Association (CAA) is adamantly opposed to AB 303 and continues to seek support for the bill's defeat. CAA's "legislative alert" to its membership, providing a sample letter to be sent to Senator Jackie Speier and members of the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee expressing opposition to the legislation, remains in effect.