This is the time of year when trial lawyers and business interests attempt to bribe -- I mean lobby -- state legislators in order to game the system -- I mean carefully enact legislation affecting important issues of public policy.
So far the business interests are winning:
Though it's still early in the nine-week session, lawmakers and lobbyists are focusing attention on three bills -- the attorney fee caps on state cases, the slip and fall protections and another measure to restore a parent's right to sign a negligence waiver for a child -- that are considered most likely to pass this year.
The momentum shift is putting the trial lawyers on the defensive.
Even a measure the group is backing to allow larger judgments in lawsuits against the state and local governments met ardent opposition in a House committee Tuesday morning.
The bill (HB1107) would have increased the sovereign immunity caps for damages against government entities from $100,000 to $250,000 with total claims from one incident capped at $1 million.
But the House Civil Justice and Courts Policy Committee dissolved into chaos as opponents crafted hand-written amendments to substantially weaken the bill, lowering the caps to $200,000 and $400,000 in the aggregate.
Later in the day, the House considered the litigation caps and slip and fall legislation with only moderate opposition from Democrats.