Lawmakers make some noise on lawsuit reform but once again fail to take any action

Travis Akin Jun. 11, 2011, 5:36am


It is a matter of priorities.

Legislative leaders in Springfield refused to give lawsuit reform initiatives a vote, but yet lawmakers spent hours and hours debating medical marijuana legislation that ultimately did not pass.

On the list of legislative priorities, it seems to me that jobs and the economy – not medical marijuana legislation – would be the top issues for most Illinois residents but apparently lawmakers did not get the memo.

If lawmakers were indeed serious about job growth and job creation, then they would have done more than merely talk about lawsuit reforms. Year after year lawsuit reforms are introduced in the Illinois General Assembly and year after year these bills get bottled up in committees and never see the light of day.

Yes, it is true that lawmakers in the House Judiciary (Civil Law) Committee heard testimony on several key lawsuit reform bills but no vote was actually taken.

How long will lawmakers merely talk about lawsuit reform?

It is good to have a conversation about lawsuit reforms, but moving forward, we need to turn that talk into action. The hearing is a significant step forward, but the hearing should be the beginning of the process, not the end result.

Illinois is currently ranked as the nation's sixth-worst for legal fairness. Companies look to do business in states where the litigation climate is fair. Why would a company move to a state with such a poor legal climate as Illinois?

Approving legal reforms could help jumpstart the economy and the good news is that, unlike tax increases, legal reform would not cost taxpayers one cent.

Neighboring states such as Wisconsin have approved significant legal reforms as a means of attracting new jobs and opportunities. While Wisconsin was busy passing lawsuit reforms and using those reforms as leverage to lure Illinois businesses to the Badger state, Illinois lawmakers focused their energies on debating medical marijuana legislation.

As I stated earlier, it is a matter of priorities. It is time for our lawmakers to take this issue seriously. Lawsuit reform is not a magic bullet, but when the state's economy continues to flounder; shouldn't state lawmakers do something – anything – to show a commitment to job growth and job creation?

There were some significant developments this session. The legislative hearing on lawsuit reform initiatives is a good first step, but while we are talking about these ideas, states like Wisconsin are taking action. It is time we all stood together and demand our lawmakers do more than just talk about lawsuit reform. It is time we joined together and put pressure on them to finally take action.

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