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1HomePageMap small sw 0816Local news stories affecting the auto body industry in Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, ColoradoTexas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana

To increase the incentive for all Oklahoma drivers to carry mandatory liability auto insurance, a House of Representatives committee voted to prohibit uninsured drivers from being able to sue for vague “pain and suffering” damages after an accident.

“There have to be greater consequences for uninsured drivers,” said state Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee. “If you or I are hit by an uninsured driver, there’s no insurance company to pay our actual losses, let alone ‘pain and suffering’ claims. Why should those same uninsured drivers be treated better than law-abiding citizens in a court of law?”

Two new bills filed by Larry Cernosek with the Houston Auto Body Association on February 24 are aimed at requiring liability carriers to pay for the towing and storage of a vehicle when they are at fault. This would take this financial burden off of the shop. The bills were filed with the Texas Senate and should take effect in September of this year.

The Houston Auto Body Association (HABA) hosted a legislative breakfast event on February 16 at the Capitol Grill in the Texas State Captiol.

Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) filed a new bill, S.B. No. 476, on February 1.

The bill would change current tax laws by reclassifying auto repair as a whole as a “retail trade” entity.

According to ASA Texas, automotive repair and collision shops owned and operated by new or used car dealerships are taxed at half the rate used to tax the independently owned shops doing identical work under current Texas Franchise Tax Code.

This is justified in the tax code by classifying dealership sales as “retail” and allowing their service and repair business to be included under that banner.

The Houston Auto Body Association (HABA) held their monthly meeting on February 1 at 7:00pm at Russell and Smith Collision Center in Houston.

Part of the night’s agenda was to have an open discussion with the 25 or 30 members in attendance and the HABA Board Members about conducting a labor rates survey in the Houston area and which company should do this.

“We are currently getting bids from independent survey companies to conduct a labor rate survey in Houston and surrounding areas,” said HABA’s President, James Brown, “We strongly disagree with the insurance industries determination of what the prevailing rate is in our area.”

Freezing temperatures, snow and sleet pummeled parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana as it made its way northeast earlier this month. The storm hit hardest from January 31 through February 3 and again on February 9 and 10, although the threat of snow loomed through the area for most of the month.

In New Orleans, a mix of rain and sleet fell on the city's northern districts and outlying neighborhoods. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency January 27 in anticipation of the weather, activating the state's Crisis Action Team to monitor possible hazardous conditions that could affect parts of the state. State government offices in 55 Louisiana parishes were closed on January 28 because of the wintry weather, according to reports made by CNN.

The snow hit hardest in Oklahoma, as residents continued to slowly dig out of 20 inches of snow, sleet and ice that shut down major interstates and forced the closure of airports, businesses and schools.