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  Taking The Hill
Posted 12/13/2005
By Christy Plunkett Foertsch

NCOIL Subcommittee Adopts Crash Parts Resolution

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) held its annual meeting in San Diego last month, where the Property and Casualty Insurance Committee voted to adopt a proposed crash parts resolution.

The resolution officially ended the draft Model Act for crash parts legislation. The Automotive Service Association (ASA) testified before the committee in July that the proposed draft legislation did not adequately protect consumers. The adopted resolution states NCOIL's belief that the market should decide which types of aftermarket crash parts should be used in the repair of a motor vehicle. ASA supports consumer choice, notice and written consent in the use of replacement crash parts.

Small Businesses Receive Record SBA Loans

In fiscal year 2005, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) secured 97,981 loans through its two small business loan programs. This set a loan volume record for the fifth consecutive year. The SBA guaranteed 88,912 loans through its flagship 7(a) program for a total of $14 billion, a 23 percent increase in the number of loans compared to the previous year. Small businesses use these loans primarily for working capital. In the Certified Development Company loan program, also known as the 504 program, 8,979 loans were made for $4.9 billion. The number of loans is up 16 percent compared to the last fiscal year. The loans are used to buy or rehabilitate fixed assets such as land, buildings, machinery and equipment.

Several Vehicle Fuel Efficiency Bills Introduced

The Vehicle and Fuel Choices Act of 2005 seeks to boost the corporate average fuel economy (CAF...) standards by increasing the number of alternative fuel vehicles manufacturers are required to produce. The legislation, which was introduced in both houses, requires automakers to make 10 percent of their vehicle fleet capable of using alternative fuel technologies and to boost fuel economy for light-duty vehicles 25 percent by 2012.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, has introduced the Fuel Security and Consumer Choice Act, S. 1994, which calls for a percentage of new vehicles to be dual fuel vehicles and would revise the method for which CAF... is calculated. Other vehicle fuel efficiency bills to note are S. 2045, introduced by Sen. Barrack Obama, D-Ill., and S. 650, the Fuels Security Act, introduced by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind. Both bills require the use of alternative renewable fuels.

Asbestos Bill Given Priority

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has stated the asbestos bill will lead the agenda next year when Congress resumes after the holidays. He predicted a late January vote. The asbestos bill, S. 852, introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., seeks to end asbestos injury lawsuits and create a $140 billion trust fund financed by industry and insurance companies involved with asbestos. A hearing was held in the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Specter, on the viability of S. 852. Many senators are opposed to the legislation and it will be difficult to pass in its current form.

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