Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/03/1994 03:00 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                                                                               
                    HOUSE LABOR AND COMMERCE                                   
                       STANDING COMMITTEE                                      
                        February 3, 1994                                       
                            3:00 p.m.                                          
                                                                               
                                                                               
  MEMBERS PRESENT                                                              
                                                                               
  Rep. Bill Hudson, Chairman                                                   
  Rep. Joe Green, Vice Chair                                                   
  Rep. Brian Porter                                                            
  Rep. Eldon Mulder                                                            
  Rep. Joe Sitton                                                              
  Rep. Bill Williams                                                           
  Rep. Jerry Mackie                                                            
                                                                               
  MEMBERS ABSENT                                                               
                                                                               
  None                                                                         
                                                                               
  COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                           
                                                                               
  *HB 403:  "An Act requiring that automobile liability                        
            insurance include coverage for uninsured or                        
            underinsured motor vehicles and an offer of policy                 
            limits for that coverage equal to coverage                         
            voluntarily purchased for bodily injury or death;                  
            and providing for an effective date."                              
                                                                               
            HEARD AND HELD IN COMMITTEE                                        
                                                                               
  *HB 394:  "An Act relating to limited partnerships; and                      
            providing for an effective date."                                  
                                                                               
            PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                            
                                                                               
  HB 292:   "An Act relating to civil actions; amending Alaska                 
            Rules of Civil Procedure 49 and 68; and providing                  
            for an effective date."                                            
                                                                               
            PASSED OUT OF COMMITTEE                                            
                                                                               
  * First public hearing.                                                      
                                                                               
  WITNESS REGISTER                                                             
                                                                               
  HOWARD JAEGAR                                                                
  Shattuck and Grummett Insurance Agents                                       
  301 Seward St.                                                               
  Juneau, Alaska  99801                                                        
  789-2446                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Supported HB 403                                        
                                                                               
  SEN. DAVE DONLEY                                                             
  Alaska State Legislature                                                     
  State Capitol                                                                
  Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                   
  465-3892                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Opposed HB 403                                          
                                                                               
  TIM BENINTENDI, Staff                                                        
  Rep. Carl Moses                                                              
  Alaska State Legislature                                                     
  State Capitol                                                                
  Juneau, Alaska  99801-1182                                                   
  465-4451                                                                     
  Position Statement:  Represented prime sponsor of HB 394                     
                                                                               
                                                                               
  PREVIOUS ACTION                                                              
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 403                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: AUTOMOTIVE LIABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE                         
  SPONSOR(S): LABOR & COMMERCE                                                 
                                                                               
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  01/26/94      2155    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  01/26/94      2155    (H)   LABOR & COMMERCE, STATE AFFAIRS                  
  02/03/94              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                       
                                                                               
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 394                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: UNIFORM LIMITED PARTNERSHIP ACT UPDATE                          
  SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MOSES                                          
                                                                               
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  01/21/94      2125    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  01/21/94      2125    (H)   LABOR & COMMERCE,STATE AFFAIRS,                  
                              FINANCE                                          
  02/03/94              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                       
                                                                               
  BILL:  HB 292                                                                
  SHORT TITLE: CIVIL LIABILITY                                                 
  SPONSOR(S): LABOR & COMMERCE                                                 
                                                                               
  JRN-DATE    JRN-PG                     ACTION                                
  04/23/93      1459    (H)   READ THE FIRST TIME/REFERRAL(S)                  
  04/23/93      1459    (H)   L&C, JUDICIARY, FINANCE                          
  09/10/93              (H)   L&C AT 09:00 AM CAPITOL 17                       
  01/27/94              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                       
  01/27/94              (H)   MINUTE(L&C)                                      
  02/01/94              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                       
  02/01/94              (H)   MINUTE(L&C)                                      
  02/03/94              (H)   L&C AT 03:00 PM CAPITOL 17                       
                                                                               
  ACTION NARRATIVE                                                             
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-8, SIDE A                                                            
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON convened the House Labor and Commerce                        
  Committee at 3:10 p.m.                                                       
  HB 403 - AUTOMOTIVE LIABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE                             
                                                                               
  Number 010                                                                   
                                                                               
  HOWARD JAEGAR, with Shattuck and Grummett Insurance Agency                   
  and a spokesman for the legislative committee of the Alaska                  
  Insurance Agents and Brokers, explained that the insurance                   
  industry supports HB 403, as it will help the young and                      
  impaired drivers in the state get insurance by opening new                   
  markets and encouraging additional insurance companies to                    
  come into the state.                                                         
                                                                               
  Number 200                                                                   
                                                                               
  SEN. DAVE DONLEY stated he was opposed to HB 403 and                         
  outlined the history of uninsured liability insurance to the                 
  committee.                                                                   
                                                                               
  SEN. DONLEY stated that he assisted former Speaker Joe Hayes                 
  in producing mandatory auto insurance law in the state.  He                  
  added that this legislation was the first time that                          
  underinsured motorist coverage was ever put into statute in                  
  Alaska.  Up until then, the state had uninsured motorist                     
  coverage.                                                                    
                                                                               
  SEN. DONLEY explained that it was not mandated in law that                   
  an insurance company had to offer this underinsured                          
  coverage. Consequently, no insurance company wanted to be                    
  the first to offer this type of insurance, because to be the                 
  first in the market means you get all the excess exposure.                   
  After seeing this problem, the legislature passed a bill to                  
  require all insurance companies to offer this insurance.                     
  Because of this, every insurance company offered it and no                   
  one had a greater amount of excess exposure and all could                    
  write their rates appropriately and provide this option to                   
  the people of Alaska.                                                        
                                                                               
  SEN. DONLEY asserted that much of what occurs in the                         
  insurance industry depends on public education.  Current law                 
  gives consumers the option of learning about this type of                    
  insurance and availing themselves of this.  Sen. Donley                      
  contended that many people don't spend the time necessary to                 
  research and learn about various options out there for                       
  insurance.                                                                   
                                                                               
  SEN. DONLEY commented that when a person has not chosen this                 
  option of purchasing underinsured protection and gets                        
  injured in an accident with an underinsured driver, then                     
  they may be faced with medical bills they can't pay.  In                     
  this scenario, everyone pays, as we as a state subsidize the                 
  hospitals for those that can't pay.                                          
                                                                               
  SEN. DONLEY stated that Hawaii and North Carolina require                    
  drivers to show proof of insurance before they can get                       
  license or registration.  The problem with this system is                    
  that it involves a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy.  In                     
  acknowledgement of that, Alaska has not gone to that system.                 
  Even though we haven't, Alaska has had great success and has                 
  cut in at least half the number of uninsured drivers.                        
                                                                               
  SEN. DONLEY reminded the committee that this is a voluntary                  
  compliance system until someone is caught doing something                    
  wrong.  He believed this is all the more reason to give                      
  consumers the option of buying this additional uninsured and                 
  underinsured insurance to protect themselves from the                        
  persons driving around without auto insurance at all.                        
                                                                               
  SEN. DONLEY noted that the subsequent reminders required by                  
  law to be given to consumers by the insurance companies was                  
  written into the law as an education factor to force people                  
  into making a conscious choice in the matter.                                
                                                                               
  SEN. DONLEY stated that preferred drivers are not                            
  significantly impacted by HB 403 other than the fact that                    
  they will not have the option they did before.  The people                   
  in the minority that this will benefit are a small                           
  percentage on nonpreferred drivers.  This benefit is                         
  speculative at best, and there may be some companies that                    
  may come into this market to offer this nonpreferred                         
  insurance to this smaller group of consumers that may cause                  
  more competition.                                                            
                                                                               
  SEN. DONLEY said he would like to hear from any insurance                    
  companies that would be willing to state that if HB 403 is                   
  passed they will come to Alaska and offer this insurance.                    
  Until this happens, all the talk is just speculation.                        
                                                                               
  SEN. DONLEY explained that one way to protect yourself is to                 
  purchase an umbrella policy.  If the consumer has a good                     
  agent and utilizes this system, they could save hundreds of                  
  dollars a year.  Under HB 403 if you utilize an umbrella                     
  policy you would no longer have the option of increasing                     
  your underinsured and uninsured coverage.                                    
                                                                               
  Number 347                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated he would postpone hearing HB 403                      
  until a future date when the committee had more time.                        
  HB 394 - UNIFORM LIMITED PARTNERSHIP ACT UPDATE                              
                                                                               
  Number 373                                                                   
                                                                               
  TIM BENINTENDI, Staff, Rep. Carl Moses, Prime Sponsor of                     
  HB 394,  stated the bill is a reintroduction of HB 112 and                   
  will complete the upgrade of Alaska's Uniform Limited                        
  Partnership Act.  He said HB 394 does not include the                        
  amendment made by Senator Rieger.  Mr. Benintendi reminded                   
  the committee of HB 112's successful passage in Labor and                    
  Commerce last year, its history in the Senate, and the                       
  Governor's veto.                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 403                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE moved HB 394 with individual recommendations.                    
  No objections were heard; it was so ordered.                                 
  HB 292 - CIVIL LIABILITY                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 416                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON brought up HB 292 and stated that the work                   
  draft now before the committee was dated 2/2/94.                             
                                                                               
  Number 440                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. GREEN moved CSHB 292(L&C) dated 2/2/94.  No objections                  
  were heard; it was so ordered.                                               
                                                                               
  Number 460                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER stated there were a couple of areas of concern                   
  brought up by Mike Ford that the committee needed to                         
  discuss.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 480                                                                   
                                                                               
  MIKE FORD, Staff Attorney, Legal Services, raised three                      
  points for the committee's consideration.  Mr. Ford provided                 
  the committee with a written detailed memo that appears                      
  below.                                                                       
                                                                               
  1) By adding the phrase, "was discovered or should have been                 
  discovered by the exercise of reasonable diligence" to Sec.                  
  09.10.065(a)(1) in section 4, I believe the committee has                    
  adopted existing law applicable to determining when the                      
  clock starts for purposes of application of statutes of                      
  limitation.  In legal terms, this date is also known as the                  
  date when a cause of action "accrues."  The significance of                  
  this relates to another section of the draft section 6.  In                  
  section 6, the current two-year statute of limitation for a                  
  tort suit is reenacted as section 09.10.075.  This two-year                  
  limit that requires a tort suit should be brought two years                  
  from the date of accrual, or two years from when a person                    
  knows or should know that that the person has a claim.  In                   
  short, there are two almost identical provisions relating to                 
  accrual of an action, one contained in section 4 and another                 
  in section 6.  This may lead to confusion and unnecessary                    
  litigation over the enactment of similar provisions of law                   
  applicable to the same lawsuit.  One solution to this                        
  situation is to change section 09.10.065 in a manner that                    
  leaves sec. 0910.075 as the applicable statute of                            
  limitation.  This would create one two-year statute for all                  
  tort suits, except when a shorter period is imposed under                    
  another provision of law.                                                    
                                                                               
  2) In section 4, section 09.10.065(a)(1) appears to allow                    
  two years to bring a negligence action against a healthier                   
  care provider.  The key point is that the committee amended                  
  this provision to allow a person two years from when the                     
  injury is discovered or should have been discovered to bring                 
  suit.  It appears that this rolling two-year period would be                 
  cut off by the provisions of section 3.  Under section                       
  09.10.052(a)(3), in section 3, a person has six years from                   
  the date "of the last act alleged to have caused the person                  
  injury, death, or property damage" to bring suit.  Under                     
  this provision, I believe that a person negligently injured                  
  by a health care professional would have only six years from                 
  the date of injury to bring a lawsuit, not two years from                    
  the date the person discovers or should have discovered the                  
  injury as contemplated in section 4.  In short, if the                       
  committee wishes to retain the rolling two-year discovery                    
  limit for actions against a health care provider, then it is                 
  necessary to amend section 09.10.052 in section 3 to ensure                  
  this occurs.                                                                 
                                                                               
  3)  In section 7(AS 09.17.010(c), section 9(AS 09.17.020(c),                 
  and section 25 (AS 09.55.580(h), I have deleted the                          
  requirement that a person be convicted of the offense and                    
  substituted language regarding attempting, committing, or                    
  fleeing the commission of the class A or unclassified                        
  felony.  Requiring that the person bringing the action be a                  
  "victim of that offense" raises a question concerning a                      
  person who was "fleeing" from the crime.  It is unclear                      
  whether a person injured by a person fleeing a class A or                    
  unclassified felony would also qualify as an exception to                    
  the cap on noneconomic damages.  For example, assume that a                  
  person commits a class A felony and then flees the crime by                  
  car.  While heading down G street the offender inures a                      
  pedestrian.  Was the pedestrian a "victim of the offense" as                 
  required under this language?  The problem is also                           
  illustrated by looking at the language in AS 09.17.030 (in                   
  section 10).  If the language in section 10 were used, the                   
  benefits of the law would apply to the pedestrian in the                     
  example because the amended language requires that the act                   
  of fleeing the class A felony relate to the pedestrian's                     
  injury, not that the pedestrian be a victim of the class A                   
  felony.                                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 570                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER moved to delete in section 4 (a)(1) and                          
  renumber.  No objections were heard; it was so ordered.                      
                                                                               
  Number 593                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD gave an example of the concern he outlined in                       
  number two above:  If a doctor is negligent in some way,                     
  seven years go by before you know about it; none of the                      
  exceptions apply; it wasn't intentional, wasn't gross                        
  negligence, wasn't fraud, then you would lose that claim                     
  under this language.                                                         
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER replied that that is absolutely correct.  He                     
  added that is what a statute of repose is.                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER was surprised to see that the current version of                 
  HB 292 did not contain the exception to the statute of                       
  repose that covered the instance:  if a doctor performing                    
  surgery leaves something inside of a person and the person                   
  doesn't discover it for 20 years.  Rep. Porter said he does                  
  not remember that provision being deleted.                                   
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-8, SIDE B                                                            
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD stated there was that provision at one time.                        
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE asked what action took that provision out.                       
                                                                               
  Number 015                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD did not recall when that provision was taken out.                   
                                                                               
  Number 025                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE stated for the record that he had specifically                   
  brought this concern up before and felt comfortable that                     
  this was taken care of.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 035                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER stated that the wording as Mr. Ford mentioned,                   
  the limitation imposed under (A) of this section which is                    
  the six year statute of repose, is suspended until resolved.                 
  "During any period in which there is fraud, intentional                      
  concealment, etc., the undisclosed presence of a foreign                     
  body, that has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or                       
  effect, in the body of the injured person and the action is                  
  based on the presence of the foreign body."                                  
                                                                               
  Number 040                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD said the langauge just stated does appear in the                    
  original HB 292, but it appears in the section against                       
  health care providers.                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 048                                                                   
                                                                               
  DANIELLA LOPER, staff, Rep. Brian Porter, stated that "that                  
  langauge was deleted because on the accrual date it was felt                 
  that, according to the discovery rule, since you could                       
  discover it any time, and the statute of repose was not in                   
  question yet."                                                               
                                                                               
  Number 050                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD agreed and added that it was felt at that time that                 
  the langauge was duplicative, but if the committee wanted                    
  that exception to remain, then they should reinsert the                      
  langauge.                                                                    
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated that this was the intent of the                       
  original bill and asked Mr. Ford to prepare an amendment to                  
  reinsert the language.                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 056                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked Mr. Ford to prepare an amendment to                    
  reinsert the language.                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 065                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD explained his last concern by using the following                   
  example:  If a person has committed a crime, class A or                      
  unclassified felony, they leave the scene and three blocks                   
  away they hit and kill a pedestrian.  Is the pedestrian a                    
  person who is not subject to the cap on noneconomic damages?                 
                                                                               
  MR. FORD asked if the committee intended that any resulting                  
  injury from fleeing the crime would eliminate the cap or did                 
  they intend to limit recovery to those victimized during the                 
  commission or attempt to commit a crime?                                     
                                                                               
  Number 197                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER suggested the committee delete the language "or                  
  fleeing" on page 6, line 12, page 6, line 27, and page 13,                   
  line 13.  There were no objections; it was so ordered.                       
                                                                               
  Number 205                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. HUDSON raised a concern brought to his attention                        
  regarding the deletion of the exception to limits on                         
  noneconomic caps for disfigured or severely impaired                         
  persons.  Chairman Hudson explained that it was his                          
  understanding that what had been accomplished with the                       
  rewrite of the statute was that the committee had done no                    
  "damage" to the concept.                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 215                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD explained that under present law there is a cap for                 
  recovery of noneconomic damages, but there is an exception                   
  for disfigurement or severe physical impairment.  The                        
  version of HB 292 before the committee now eliminates that                   
  exception.                                                                   
                                                                               
  Number 225                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked if this was the committee's intent.                    
                                                                               
  Number 254                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER replied that it was the committee's intent to                    
  delete this exception.  Rep. Porter suggested this exception                 
  has been used as a major loophole to bring large suits.                      
  Rep. Porter cited the example of a broken figure that heals                  
  crooked.  Should a person be allowed to use the exception to                 
  the $500,000 cap to sue for more?                                            
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER added that the terms in question are ambiguous.                  
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON asked if the courts had defined these terms.                 
                                                                               
  MR. FORD answered that he was sure the courts had dealt with                 
  this issue, but he was not aware of any definition.                          
                                                                               
  REP. SITTON stated that $500,000 would not be an appropriate                 
  cap for someone who was severely brain damaged, and we have                  
  to rely on the judgement of the jury in some cases.  He                      
  suggested that the committee tighten up the definition of                    
  severe physical impairment.                                                  
                                                                               
  Number 340                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. HUDSON stated he thought the issue was important to                     
  bring up, but if the exception were to be reinserted, the                    
  definitions would have to be really tight.                                   
                                                                               
  Number 345                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD responded that the committee should remember that                   
  in order for the exception to come into play in a lawsuit,                   
  it would have to be a very serious injury.  He doubted that                  
  a minor disfigurement or impairment would be at issue.                       
                                                                               
  Number 355                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MULDER surmised that a severely injured person would                    
  most likely be going after damages in the economic and                       
  punitive categories.  Rep. Mulder supported the deletion of                  
  the exceptions to the noneconomic cap.                                       
                                                                               
  Number 360                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON added that one of the reasons he supported                   
  the deletion was because the interpretation of the terms                     
  used was unclear.  Furthermore, the exception only applies                   
  in a relatively few cases on an annual basis.                                
                                                                               
  Number 400                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. SITTON asked if doctors and hospitals were required to                  
  carry malpractice insurance in Alaska.                                       
                                                                               
  Number 408                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD replied that there is no mandatory insurance law in                 
  Alaska.  As a practical matter, a doctor who works for a                     
  hospital is required to have insurance.                                      
                                                                               
  Number 428                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MULDER wanted to clarify the point regarding the                        
  relationship between a doctor on contract and the hospital                   
  he works out of.  What kind of recourse would a patient have                 
  if something went wrong?                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 440                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER replied that a major focus of this legislation                   
  is to make things fair and equitable for all.  He stated                     
  that he did not think it fair that a hospital be held liable                 
  for the actions of a doctor on contract with them when they                  
  neither train or supervise them.  This is in contrast to the                 
  doctors who are hired directly by the hospital; they are                     
  employees and the hospital should be held liable for there                   
  actions.                                                                     
                                                                               
  Number 460                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON clarified that doctors who are hired by the                  
  hospital are covered by the hospital, but doctors who are                    
  independent contractors are not required to have insurance                   
  and are not covered by the hospital.  This is the intent of                  
  this legislation.                                                            
                                                                               
  Number 466                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS asked for further clarification on the                         
  liability of hospitals and doctors.                                          
                                                                               
  Number 477                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER reiterated his points on liability factors.                      
  Only the independent health care workers are not covered by                  
  the hospitals.  Any employee of the hospital would be                        
  covered by the hospital's liability insurance.                               
                                                                               
  Number 491                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE hypothesized that a nurse employed by a hospital                 
  but under the direction of a doctor could conceivably be                     
  part of an operation gone awry.  In this case, would the                     
  hospital be a named defendant since they employ the nurse?                   
                                                                               
  Number 536                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER replied that it is the difference of between                     
  criminal law and criminal evidence; it could be a violation                  
  of the law, but whether you can prove it or not is the                       
  question.  He added that if the nurse had some degree of                     
  responsibility and culpability, which is a matter of proof                   
  that the jury would decide, then the hospital could be named                 
  and held responsible.                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 550                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. SITTON stated that in 1989, with 800 doctors in the                     
  state, there were only four or five malpractice suits.  With                 
  this in mind, he did not feel insurance rates will come down                 
  since the insurance industry is fueled by competition and                    
  the premiums obviously do not rely on these few cases.                       
                                                                               
  REP. SITTON added that he has not heard from a single                        
  insurance company that this legislation will result in                       
  reduced rates.                                                               
                                                                               
  Number 570                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER replied that Dave Walsh, Director of the                         
  Division of Insurance, and John George, lobbyist for the                     
  insurance industry, have both testified that insurance rates                 
  will come down if the legislation is passed and survives                     
  court challenges.                                                            
                                                                               
  TAPE 94-9, SIDE A                                                            
  Number 001                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS added his concern with whether or not the                      
  insurance rates will come down with passage of this                          
  legislation.                                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 020                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP PORTER stated there is a provision in HB 292 that                        
  requires the medical community to come up with a set of                      
  standards of practice with the aim towards eliminating the                   
  need of defensive medicine.  In addition, HB 292 asks the                    
  Division of Insurance to examine rates and report back to                    
  the legislature.                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 075                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. SITTON stated that the testimony taken back in November                 
  was that it's not the large awards that run up insurance                     
  rates, but the host of small ones as stated by Mr. George.                   
  Rep. Sitton asked, if this is true, then why do we have the                  
  caps on the various damages?                                                 
                                                                               
  Number 100                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER answered that it was his recollection that Mr.                   
  George testified that while the vast majority of claims are                  
  in the smaller range, it's the potential and periodic large                  
  claims that have the driving effect on rates.                                
                                                                               
  Number 120                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MULDER added that it's the potential exposure that                      
  drives the system.                                                           
                                                                               
  Number 185                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS asked the committee to revisit the issue of                    
  the deletion of the exceptions to the noneconomic caps.                      
  Rep. Williams expressed his particular concern about a                       
  person severely disfigured or impaired.                                      
                                                                               
  Number 207                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER outlined the various options available to an                     
  injured person, damages for economic loss, medical coverage,                 
  punitive and noneconomic loss.                                               
                                                                               
  Number 245                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated that deleting the exceptions is                       
  definitely a policy call on the part of the legislature and                  
  that the supporters of HB 292 believe its a significant one.                 
                                                                               
  Number 288                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS stated he feels uncomfortable with the                         
  deletion of the exceptions without more discussions.                         
                                                                               
  Number 308                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE stated he is against the cap of $500,000 for                     
  pain and suffering in severely impaired and disfigured                       
  cases.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 350                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. GREEN asked if Rep. Mackie thought there was an                         
  appropriate limit or cap, $2,000,000 or $3,000,000 or so,                    
  which the injured person should be satisfied with.                           
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE responded that he has a very good friend who is                  
  in that very situation and maybe they should ask him.  Rep.                  
  Mackie added that he meant no disrespect, but some sort of                   
  discussion should be attempted in order to tackle this                       
  issue.                                                                       
                                                                               
  REP. MULDER stated that he was sensitive to this issue                       
  because no amount of money could make a person physically                    
  whole again, but the policy question is what level is fair.                  
                                                                               
  Number 424                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER stated that disfigurement and severely disabled                  
  are two different terms.  Rep. Porter contended that a bent                  
  finger is disfigurement and therein lies the large loophole                  
  that in reality negates the presence in present law of a cap                 
  on noneconomic damages.                                                      
                                                                               
  Number 430                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE agreed that losing a finger should not be                        
  regarded as a severe disfigurement or impairment; but                        
  someone who is confined to a wheelchair should not be                        
  covered with a cap.                                                          
                                                                               
  Number 454                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON stated he did not want to sacrifice the bill                 
  over this issue.  He asked Rep. Porter if he felt his staff                  
  or counsel could redefine the problem that has created the                   
  change to begin with.  Maybe we could come up with a plug                    
  for the loophole and yet still accommodate the few cases a                   
  year that may fall into the disfigured or severely impaired                  
  situation, he said.                                                          
                                                                               
  Number 470                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. FORD suggested that the committee look at qualifying                     
  disfigured, as impaired is qualified by "severely."                          
                                                                               
  Number 480                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER  stated that it only qualifies the terms in the                  
  eyes of the beholder.                                                        
                                                                               
  Number 524                                                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON summarized that the will of the committee                    
  seems to be to address this issue, and since the bill goes                   
  to Judiciary next, maybe Rep. Porter could suggest a                         
  solution.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 529                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. MACKIE suggested that this issue would be a major one                   
  on the floor.                                                                
                                                                               
  Number 540                                                                   
                                                                               
  REP. PORTER told the committee he would be willing to work                   
  with staff and counsel to work up language that would define                 
  severe physical disability and impairment.                                   
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON instructed staff to draft a letter of intent                 
  to the Judiciary Committee that the Labor and Commerce                       
  Committee wishes the Judiciary committee to address this                     
  issue.                                                                       
                                                                               
  REP. WILLIAMS moved CSHB 292(L&C) with individual                            
  recommendations.  No objections were heard; it was so                        
  ordered.                                                                     
                                                                               
  CHAIRMAN HUDSON adjourned the meeting at 5:00 p.m.                           

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