AUTO REFORM PROPOSALS MOVE ONE STEP CLOSER TO CALIFORNIA BALLOT

AUTO REFORM PROPOSALS MOVE ONE STEP CLOSER TO CALIFORNIA BALLOT

Supporters of two insurance reform proposals submitted signatures in hopes of qualifying their measures for the November ballot.

One proposal, backed by Assemblyman Richard Polanco, D-Los Angeles, would

cut the bodily injury portion of auto insurance premiums and limit attorney fees and pain and suffering awards.Proponents submitted petitions with more than 680,000 signatures, Mr. Polanco said.

Supporters of a second proposal submitted more than 655,000 signatures for verification. The proposal by the Insurance Consumer Action Network, sponsored by the California Trial Lawyers Association, would require auto insurance companies to reduce rates for good drivers by 20 percent and would establish an Insurance Consumer Advocate office to oversee future insurance industry rate requests.

Each proposal needs valid signatures of at least 372,178 registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.

Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court refused to reinstate the insurance industry's no-fault initiative, which was struck down because it contained a clause protecting the insurance industry's right to make campaign contributions.

Only Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas and Justice David Eagleson voted to grant a hearing on an appeal by sponsors of the measure. Four votes are needed for a hearing by the seven-member court.

The action leaves in place a ruling by the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento that the initiative violated a state constitutional rule limiting ballot measures to a single subject.

The initiative would have instituted a no-fault system, limited damage awards and attorneys' fees, and rolled back insurance premiums for two years. It also would have declared that insurers had the same right as any other citizen to make campaign contributions, and that a legal contribution from an insurer could not be grounds for disqualifying an official from making a decision.