The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers-Minnesota (AASP-MN) announced that, with less than 24 hours before the constitutionally-mandated date for adjournment, AASP-MN provisions to close a steering loophole and prohibit insurer mandates for specific parts procurement software programs and electronic estimating systems were still on the table at the Minnesota State Capitol. However, after a late-night collapse in negotiations between conference committee members and with time running out, virtually all policy provisions – including those proposed by AASP-MN – were stripped from the Jobs, Economic Development and Energy Finance bill. That bill passed the House with just seconds remaining in the 2015 Legislative Session.
“We came so close,” said AASP-MN Executive Director Judell Anderson. “If we had been given an opportunity for a fair hearing to make our case, I’m confident the votes were with us. As it is, it doesn’t really feel like we got outplayed or beat by our opponent, but rather were the victim of a bad call by the referee.”
AASP-MN says that it overcame many obstacles over the course of the session to keep its provisions in play as the session came to a close, including:
- A reluctance in the Senate and an outright refusal in the House to grant the bill a hearing
- Orchestrated attempts by Senate Commerce Committee members to send the bill off “to die”
- A radio campaign by the insurance industry characterizing the bill as anti-consumer and anti-choice
The association was also up against insurance industry lobbyists, including additional contract lobbyists retained just for this issue.
During the course of the Senate Floor debate, as AASP-MN’s advocates fought to retain the provisions it had successfully placed in a finance bill for Commerce Committee matters, an amendment was offered to remove the AASP-MN provisions from the bill and then a second amendment was proposed to add language, which would have rendered the provisions useless. Both amendments were defeated.
The final hurdle for AASP-MN to clear was the House-Senate Conference Committee, which had the job of reconciling the differences between the House and Senate finance bills. According to AASP-MN, this is where the “meltdown” in negotiations occurred and caused legislative leadership to step in and hastily assemble a skeleton, “lights-on” bill which did not include the association’s provisions.
The 2016 Legislative Session convenes on March 8, 2016.