#PABudget: Legislators Find Time to Push ALEC’s “Fact Act” that Takes Aim at Asbestos Victims

Last week, we reported that Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman appeared on WITF’s Smart Talk and touted American Legislative Exchange Council’s support for pension reform.

This week, in the middle of an ongoing six month budget stalemate, House Republicans have found the time to hold a public hearing on House Bill 1428, the Fairness in Claims and Transparency Act, which mimics ALEC’s “Asbestos Claims and Transparency Act.”

The hearing was attended by lobbyists from various trade associations like the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the Pennsylvania Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and businesses like Honeywell.

Over the weekend, Linda Reinstein, from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, published an oped showing that Pennsylvania is third in the country with patients passing away from asbestos related diseases.  She states that “more than 14,200 Pennsylvanians have died since 1999” from the microfiber and that the bill “would make it harder for victims to obtain compensation for their asbestos-related disease.”

One lobbyist standing in the room was overheard bragging about the successes they had in West Virginia, another state that pushed an ALEC style bill.

According to PR Watch, an organization within the Center for Media and Democracy, these type of bills are designed to prolong a victim’s lawsuit until they pass away.  Such bills are designed to help companies like Honeywell International, an ALEC member, who face asbestos lawsuits from the manufacturing of the material.

When comparing House Bill 1428 and the ALEC model legislation side by side, there are obvious similarities.

For instance, the “short title” for HB 1428:

This act shall be known and may be cited as the Fairness in Claims and Transparency (FaCT) Act.

The title from the ALEC bill:

This chapter may be cited as the “Asbestos Claims Transparency Act.”

Under “purpose” from HB 1428:

(1) To provide transparency of claims made against bankruptcy trusts and in the tort system.

(2) To facilitate fair and appropriate compensation to plaintiffs with a rational allocation of responsibility to all persons, whether current defendants or not, consistent with existing State law.

(3) To preserve the resources of defendants involved in tort claims and bankruptcy trusts to help promote adequate recoveries for deserving plaintiffs.

(4) To ensure that liabilities properly borne by bankruptcy trusts are not imposed upon defendants in the tort system.

ALEC:

  (1) To provide transparency of claims made against asbestos-related bankruptcy trusts and in the tort system;

  (2) To assure that courts and litigants have available to them information as to payments an asbestos claimant has or may receive from asbestos-related bankruptcy trusts;

(3) To facilitate fair and appropriate compensation to claimants with a rational allocation of responsibility to all persons whether current defendants or not;

4) To preserve the resources of both defendants and asbestos-related bankruptcy trusts to help promote adequate recoveries for deserving claimants; and

(5) To insure that liabilities properly borne by asbestos-related bankruptcy trusts are not imposed upon defendants in the tort system.

We can go on, but you get the point.

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About Sean Kitchen 595 Articles
Assistant Editor of the Raging Chicken Press and living in Harrisburg pursuing journalistic opportunities. You can send tips to SeanKitchen@RagingChickenPress.org and reach me on twitter at @RCPress_Sean!
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