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Car insurance overhaul dies in state House

two cars in a rear ending accident
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Opps. A fender bender in Ann Arbor. Michiganders spend a lot for auto insurance.

A plan to overhaul the state’s auto insurance system failed late Thursday night.

The bill would have gotten rid of the requirement that everyone have unlimited personal injury coverage. Instead, drivers would have been able to choose from three levels of coverage.

Speaker of the House Tom Leonard (R-DeWitt) blamed Democrats for the failure. Leonard said he was always clear that he would need 10 to 15 Democrats for the bill to pass.

“Today House Republicans stood up for the people of this state to lower auto insurance rates and the Democrats decided to side with the hospitals and trial attorneys over the people that they represent,” he said.

But only 41 Republicans voted in favor of the legislation that failed in a 45-63 vote. A few Democrats crossed party lines to vote yes. Opponents said this system wasn’t sustainable and didn’t really guarantee savings for drivers.

“To me there were so many flaws in this bill,” said House Democratic Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing). “That’s why you saw such bipartisan opposition to this.”

Singh called on Leonard and the House Insurance Committee to take up a bipartisan package introduced recently.

“I am committed to coming back next week, taking a look at those bills that are in committee and making sure that they get a fair hearing,” Singh said.

Even some proponents agreed that this wasn’t the best solution, but they said it was the closest they could get. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan worked with Republican lawmakers on the legislation.        

“There’s something about once you enter the boundaries of this city that, year after year, nothing gets done,” he said.

Duggan said he’s not going to quit until some type of auto insurance changes become law.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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