Legislative Policy Issues:
The recent Legislative season was a grueling challenge. Nevertheless, despite the extended and contentious deliberations of the budget process and so many other issues, most of the legislation that demanded NHTLA participation garnered bipartisan support and we had another successful year. Our gratitude is largely due to our lobbyist, Jim Demers, and the leadership of NHTLA’s Legislative Chair, Kevin Dugan of Abramson, Brown & Dugan. Dugan was recognized at our annual meeting for his exceptional commitment of time and energy to the legislative goals of our organization. Additionally, the support of our membership was impressive and enormously appreciated.
The NHTLA Legislative Committee reviewed over a hundred bills last fall. As most of you know, SB 119, which would limit recovery in certain types of medical malpractice cases, was one of the most contentious bills this past session. However, attempts to limit liability and access to the courts surfaced everywhere. NHTLA opposes all legislation of this type as a matter of policy.
Defeated legislation included mandating that the losing party pay the prevailing party’s attorneys’ fees and court costs in tort actions (loser pays all); limiting landowner’s liability for personal injury or property damage on sidewalks; limiting the liability of vendors and property owners during the operation of farmers’ markets; and limiting municipal liability for hazardous waste, to name only some.
SB 135 was intended to relieve hotelkeepers and innkeepers of all liability when furnishing the name of a person to a guest for personal child care services. NHTLA was able to amend the bill so that a hotel/innkeepers will have limited liability only if they 1) had no adverse information relating to the person; 2) if they provide written notice to the guest that they have not evaluated the person and 3) so long as they receive no compensation from the guest for the service. SB 135 amends RSA 353:2 and will take effect
In most of the country, however, rising medical malpractice liability premiums created the real hotbed of legislative activity and New Hampshire was no different. NHTLA became actively involved in almost a dozen critical, time-consuming medical malpractice bills.
SB 119 relative to medical and hospital liability insurance (the so called “loss of opportunity” bill) was signed by the governor and became law on
Other medical malpractice legislation and the issue of costly premiums gave rise to
HB 296 relative to settlement agreements in medical malpractice suits was signed by the governor on June 30th as well (Chapter Law 195). This bill amends RSA 507-E:3 and states, “Any portion of a settlement agreement in an action for medical injury which as the purpose or effect of prohibiting disclosure of relevant information to the appropriate state medical licensing board is void, contrary to public policy, and shall not be enforced.” NHTLA supported this change in the law and is pleased to announce that it will become effective on
NHTLA was also very involved in HB 776 which would have granted immunity to those providing emergency medical care to pregnant women. That bill was eventually killed.
As always, Ed Stewart and his trustworthy back-up Nick Brown, both of Hall Stewart, P.A., are due great thanks for their tireless efforts on the prolific Workers’ Compensation legislation that shows up every year.
Of note is SB 82 which shall become law
SB 174 amends RSA 281-A:32,XI to clarify that disability rates, as they apply to permanent impairment awards, shall be determined by the average weekly wage earned by the employee at the time of injury. We expect this to pass in the near future and it shall take effect 60 days after its passage.
SB 53 amends RSA 281-A to establish an advisory board to the labor commissioner relative to the nomination and evaluation of candidates for the compensation appeals board, established in RSA 281-A:42-a. NHTLA will appoint an attorney representing plaintiffs. Four other members will be appointed to the board, one from organized labor by the commissioner, one by the BIA and the Chamber of Commerce, an attorney by the NHBA representing defendants, and one by the NH Adjusters Association. It will become effective
NHTLA makes it a policy to monitor all insurance bills and we get involved when appropriate. This year, most notable was the participation of our membership at the Insurance Commission with regard to the issue of MedPay and whether it should be included in a coordinated benefits plan and considered primary. We were well-represented at the insurance department hearing last fall. Thanks to all who attended. On June 21, Jennifer Farrell, NHTLA Executive Director, traveled to
Our Work Continues…
Throughout the summer, NHTLA will monitor several pieces of legislation referred to interim study and attend meetings of study committees established over the past year.
Given the federal landscape, we do not expect our task to get any easier and we are always preparing for the anticipated challenges of upcoming sessions.
We expect this year, in particular, that the coming months will be unlike any other. The presidential primary will present a formidable challenge to all trial lawyers in
Every year your participation, your sustaining membership, your legislative contribution, become more and more important to us. Your contribution makes a tremendous difference and is greatly appreciated.
Access to the courts is now barred for more than 60 million American workers
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