Referendum burdens citizens, businesses

I'm appalled at how far the level of public debate has fallen on Referendum 67.

Referendum 67 has become a referendum on trial lawyers vs. insurance companies. A better debate is whether this law brings any added benefit that exceeds its cost - particularly for the more vulnerable in our society. I believe the answer is no.

Insurance rates will surely rise. Small businesses and lower-income people will bear a disproportionately greater burden if this law is enacted than those with higher incomes.

Higher-income folks can absorb the cost, but a person struggling to make ends meet will have to cut their budget somewhere. They may choose not to purchase insurance or to purchase less insurance than they should have. We don't need more uninsured drivers on the road.

My overriding concerns are the real necessity of this law and the disproportionate burden it will place on lower-income people and those owning small businesses.

Small businesses, with their thin profit margins, don't need more government-imposed costs. We should pass laws that help, not hinder business entrepreneurship.

Is the law necessary? I've looked at the numbers, and they just don't add up to a crisis.

R-67 proponents say it's not currently illegal for insurance companies to deny claims - that's just flat-out wrong. As a former plaintiff's attorney, I can say absolutely that it is settled law in this state that an insurance company cannot act in bad faith with their insureds.

I'm completely puzzled about the insurance commissioner supporting R-67. If he needs more authority in monitoring the insurance market, he should go to the Legislature and ask for it. Why would he - or we - want to hand that authority to trial lawyers?

I mailed my reject R-67 vote yesterday.

Wes Uhlman
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