Montana Labor Rate Bill Passes; Database Bill Killed - BodyShop Business
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Montana Labor Rate Bill Passes; Database Bill Killed


The fate of two bills introduced in the 2009 legislative session in
Montana has been decided: H.B. 291 has passed and H.B. 286 was killed
in committee.

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H.B. 291 dealing with labor rates changed the term “lowest prevailing”
to “average market” rate. It has become law after the House passed it
96-3 and the Senate 47-3.

H.B. 286, modeled after similar bills that have become law in Minnesota
and Rhode Island, was written to allow use of the database estimating
systems in their entirety. One difference between it and the Minnesota
bill was the exclusion of the words "unilaterally and arbitrarily.”

The House passed H.B. 286 with a 95-5 vote. However, according to the
Montana Collision Repair Specialists Assocation (MCRS), the vote in the
Senate was postponed due to intense opposition from the insurance
lobby. The MCRS said that this opposition ultimately changed the
direction of committee members’ votes.


MCRS accepted the Senate’s suggested amendment, adding “unilaterally
and arbitrarily” to the bill to make it identical to Minnesota’s, but
the bill was still killed in committee.

“This was politics, and a hard lesson well learned,” a statement from
the MCRS read. “Our hope is that our costly experience will help other
associations recognize who the players are when they put forth their
legislative efforts so they’re aware of potential opposition before
they proceed.”

For more information on the MCRS, visit

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