WINNFIELD, LA (07/08/20) A new recently passed house bill is set to help the logging industry; one, like many others, suffering the negative economic impact from COVID-19. In May, Senate Bills 418 and 471, were designed to help them by lowering insurance and court costs. They did not come to pass due to last minute changes.
“[Senate Bill 418] actually added some language to collateral source that was not good for premium payers, so it was important that we had an opportunity to remove that. [Senate Bill 471] did have some caps in there, with $500,000 on general damages, and it made everyone uncomfortable setting that type of limit.” Representative Jack McFarland, Republican Representative of District 13 in Louisiana said.
Even though those bills did not pass, a new bill, House Bill 57, does provide some relief for the logging industry. It’s also know as the Civil Justice Act; taking principles of the first two bills and fixing the wording to help lower costs, as well as create competition within the industry.
“With the jury trial threshold being lowered, it puts us more in line with the rest of the country. direct action language was added to it, the seat belt gag law was repealed completely, and the collateral source, which is most significant to commercial auto insurance premiums was addressed by reducing the phantom charges that are alleged in a civil lawsuit.” McFarland said.
“Instead of all these fraudulent claims and all these jacked up medical costs, the collateral source part of the language, it basically pays out the actual cost to make an individual whole again. We feel this is going to drive auto insurance rates down for every Louisiana citizen.” Josh Mcallister, Chairman of the Louisiana Logger’s Association & Vice President of McManus Timber Company said.
The bill has been sitting on John Bel Edwards’ desk since July 1st, with the expectation he will sign it. If the bill continues to sit without a signature, it could be automatically signed into law.
McAllister also wants to thank the many people who have made this law possible. “We’re thankful for our State Representative Jack McFarland who helped lead this fight. He’s also the Chair of Ag and Forestry in Baton Rouge and he’s also a Louisiana logger, and we’re very thankful for him, as well as the other leaders in Baton Rouge and all of our other Louisiana logger who helped us in this process.”