Friday, 30 April 2004 17:00

Arizona legislator and industry team advance anti-steering bill

In the marathon of Arizona politics, the baton has been passed from the Fairness for Automotive Consumers (FAC) legislative committee members - David Fait, Brad Beebe, Randy Maddox, and Cindy Beckes - to State Representative Gary Pierce (R), and lobbyists Barry Aarons and Art Chapa. 

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On April 27, the Arizona Senate unanimously approved HB 2468 on third reading (full vote), clearing the way for the House concurrence in the Senate amendments, House Final Passage and signature by Governor Janet Napolitano. House action was expected in early May.

This legislation originally introduced by the FAC in January as an anti-insurer-owned shop bill has migrated into the successful anti-steering HB 2468.

On April 15, HB 2468 was heard in the Senate Committee of the Whole (COW) and received preliminary approval. The bill will then go back to the Senate for the final vote. Lobbyist Aarons is very pleased with the progress of HB 2468. The FAC lobbyist pulled this legislation through Arizona's gilded halls to a satisfactory end. He credits much of the success to Representatives Gary Pierce and Clancy Jane, sponsors of HB 2468. "When Representative Pierce saddled up, we just catapulted into success," expressed lobbyist Aarons with a smile.

Terms of legislation

According to Aarons, "There are four pieces to this legislation that we are very proud to have achieved."

1. For the first time in Arizona history, consumers will have the support of the law behind the right to choose where to have their automobiles repaired. HB 2468 further requires that if an insurance company makes a recommendation to a consumer they are required by law to notify customers of their right to select their own repair facility.

2. The Department of Insurance will enforce this legislation through the Unfair Claims Practices Act. For flagrant violations, the penalties could be as much as $50,000 per six-month period.

3. Tied repair facilities (insurer-owned) will be required to report to the Department of Commerce both the dollar amount and the percentage of business going from an insurance company to that tied repair facility.

4. If the insured or claimant selects a tied repair facility, the adjuster for that vehicle cannot be employed by the tied repair facility.

Speaking from experience

Representative Pierce intimately understands the issues facing the automotive industry. Before his entrance into state politics, Pierce owned Honda and Nissan new car dealerships in Yuma, Arizona. Concurrently with his new automobile dealerships, he owned a Budget Rent-A-Car franchise and a Shell gas station.

Pierce serves in the Arizona House of Representatives for District 19, Mesa, and is assigned to the Judiciary, Public Institutions and Counties committees, while presiding over the . Transportation committee. Married since 1973, Pierce and wife Sherry, have four sons and a grandson. Early in the day of April 15, a "Race Around the Capitol" fundraiser to benefit the Arizona National Guard Family Assistance Fund was won by Pierce.

Lobbyist also well qualified

Lobbyist Aarons speaks with high regard of his legislative colleague Representative Pierce and the FAC group he represents. "Representative Pierce is enthusiastic about representing the FAC group." Aarons is the owner of The Aarons Company, a public policy consulting firm with a diverse portfolio of functions and clients, including corporations and trade associations for whom he lobbies and provides other public policy services before the Arizona State Legislature and U.S. Congress.

He is a Senior Fellow for the Americans for Tax Reform and an Adjunct Fellow for the Institute for Policy Innovation. In a telephone interview from his home the evening of April 15, he declared,"this industry has been abused by the insurance companies for so long, it is good to help the industry move forward.

"This is an interesting process and we are on the last leg of our journey," concluded Aarons.

Janet Chaney has served in many facets of the collision repair industry. She is now looking after the best interests of her clients from Cave Creek, Arizona. Her email address is janet_chaney@earthlink.net.


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