Hope Floats For Class-Action Reform Bill
Long delayed class-action reform legislation may yet be enacted this year following an agreement among Senate leaders to take up the issue after completing work on a defense appropriations bill, industry representatives say.
“After 25 years of effort, Im becoming a true believer that the Senate will bring this up,” says Michael Kerley, senior vice president of federal relations with the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Falls Church, Va. “I think this will happen and that we have the votes to pass reform,” he says.
The issue arose when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., last week scheduled a procedural vote on the class-action bill, S. 2062, while the Senate was in the middle of its work on defense appropriations.
Democrats opposed the timing of the vote, which was on a cloture motion, needed to prevent a filibuster. Frist then agreed to postpone the cloture vote and Democratic leaders agreed that S. 2062 should be brought to the floor after the defense bill.
Kerley says that initially he thought the insistence that the Senate first complete work on the defense bill was a smokescreen to delay a final vote on S. 2062. But from what he is hearing now, he says, he is confident class-action reform will have a final vote.
Last year, Republican supporters of class-action reform negotiated a consensus bill with several Democrats, assuring 61 votes in favor of S. 2062, enough to overcome a filibuster.
While the consensus represents less reform than NAIFA would like to see, Kerley says, it will resolve some problems with class-action litigation.