The latest Tennessee Chamber "Capitol Update" newsletter came out today with a message for State Representatives on the Tennessee House Committee for Consumer and Human resources. We are watching, and we are scoring.
This is one way the US Chamber of Commerce and its affiliates, such as the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, exert influence. They create a scorecard. Who they support, and who they do not support will be influenced by this scorecard. And by influence, that means donations from the US Chamber of Commerce and its various affiliates.
This time the issue they are scoring is lawsuit lending legislation. In particular, a bill that the US Chamber and Tennessee Chamber have sponsored to protect their constituents, big insurance companies such as State Farm and Allstate, and businesses by banning consumer legal funding in Tennessee through the imposition of rate caps that would make the industry price its money below cost.
Yes, the champions of business interests are advocating restrictive pricing and profit control. For the benefit of insurance companies, businesses or the consumer?
Here is the excerpt from the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce Capitol Update for February 13, 2013 that discusses the legal funding legislation:
Lawsuit Lending Stalls in House Committee: Hearing Scheduled for Next Week
This week, disruption occurred during House committee debate of lawsuit lending legislation as members questioned House Chair Jimmy Eldridge over a procedural motion. Once a final committee vote is taken on all amendment and legislation, the Chamber will note the vote totals and point out supporters and opponents. The Chamber-supported legislation seeks to provide regulation for lawsuit lenders. The legislation, supported by the Tennessee Chamber and many other business associations across the state, proposes to provide much needed regulation and an interest-rate cap. The legislation is important and will be counted in our annual scorecard that is distributed statewide after the end of the legislative session. Business has noted that lawsuit lenders, many of which are located out of state, drive up business litigation costs for insurance, medical malpractice, and a number of other business areas. We urge you to contact members of the committee to support regulation on lawsuit lenders with caps that provide protection for Tennessee consumers!
The Tennessee Chamber Capitol Update then lists the name, district, email and phone number of each representative on the committee so the Tennessee members of the Chamber can call on the committee members to express their views. Keep in mind that this paragraph above is likely the only information that the constituents of the Tennessee Chamber have seen on the topic of consumer legal funding.
Note that at a January 28th hearing, the Chamber stated that "we don't want to drive this industry out of business". Yet then they strongly advocate for a bill that provides price controls that provide negative margins for industry participants, and has other poison pill provisions such as non-assignability of transactions (so a legal funding providers cannot get bank lines), and a physical presence requirement.
Could it be that the insurance companies behind the US Chamber, such as State Farm and Allstate, do not like financial assistance going to the consumers that allows consumers to withstand financial pressures and lowball insurance company settlement offers?