Trying to deform tort reform

The SE Texas Record Apr. 24, 2010, 8:00am

If you found a diet plan that worked, would you abandon it in favor of one that didn't?

How about a successful investment strategy? Would you give up that one for another with little or no return?

Or a school where your kids excelled? Would you pull them out and place them in a mediocre one instead?

Of course not. When you find something that works, you stick with it.

So why do some state representatives keep proposing ways to undo tort reforms that have made life better for Texans?

The facts are in. The benefits of tort reforms enacted in 1995 and 2003 are many and profound: doctors coming into the state instead of leaving, lower insurance rates for practitioners and patients, lower maintenance costs for our judicial system, a booming economy, etc.

A report by the Perryman Group estimated statewide savings from the 1995 reforms at $2.5 billion, roughly $1,000 annually per Texas household.

Who could be against a success story like that? Who would want to repeal those benefits?

State Sen. Juan Hinojosa and State Rep. John Smithee could and would.

Hinojosa (D-McAllen) and Smithee (R-Amarillo) introduced legislation this past year to overturn portions of the Omnibus Tort Reform Act of 2003. Both lawmakers are members of the lobby that campaigned vigorously against reform and who see themselves as victims of it.

They're trial attorneys. Tort reform took a bite out of their pocketbooks, and they still are sulking.

Hinojosa and Smithee seem determined to do what's good for Hinojosa and Smithee--constituents be damned. Neither man appears troubled by this obvious conflict of interest.

Fortunately, the bill failed. But Hinojosa, Smithee and other trial attorneys serving in our legislature are likely to try again.

When election time rolls around, their constituents should consider replacing them with representatives in tune with real constituent needs.

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