Time to Re-Tort
A caller to WPRO’s Matt Allen Show today came up with the idea of charging a fee for every bill that a Rhode Island legislator wishes to file. Matt suggested $500 a pop, to be deducted from the legislator’s annual salary.
In view of the many look-at-me, pointlessly distracting bills that are filed every session, that strikes me as a fine idea and one that I would not modify so much as amplify. In addition to the above stick, a carrot: for each bill filed by a legislator which either removes an existing bad law from the books or would move Rhode Island in the right direction on one of the many bad lists that we are on, a bounty of $250.
It appears that such a bounty could be put to good use in the area of tort reform. Rhode Island ranks last in the area of tort liability. [Page 54 of this link.] But isn’t this good? Doesn’t this mean that justice is being done? Well, yes and no. Disproportionate awards are not usually bravely shouldered alone by the losing defendant. They are passed on to the consumer in several ways. So they cost us all money in the form of higher prices or higher insurance premiums. Excessive tort liability is also a contributing factor to our state’s stinky business climate. [You know, the climate that has bestowed a recession on us – as Justin points out, the only state so far in the Northeast to get one.] Once again, averageness – that is my fairly modest aspiration for the state of Rhode Island. In the area of tort liability, neither crusaders nor corporate hatchetmen. Just to be in the middle of the pack on this and the other unfortunate lists that we are on.