Respectfully, this Bill is Bad; Don’t Hurt Me

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi will cut you.

The recent side-by-side Op-Ed pieces in the San Francisco Chronicle shows how Hayashi can praise you, then before you can say thank you, will rip you to shreds.

Rep. Jackie Speier, who authored legislation six years ago that stopped insurance companies from steering customers to preferred repair shops, dared to criticized Hayashi’s bill that attempts to roll back some of those consumer protections by giving companies a final chance to make the hard sell.

“But that’s all about to change,” Speier wrote, “because of an industry-sponsored bill and a recent legal ruling that are conspiring to make consumers the least important person involved in car repair decisions.”

That’s alright, ‘I like you,’ Hayashi seemed to be saying. “Like so many in the Bay Area, I highly respect Rep. Jackie Speier. She has been a champion for consumers, and established California’s anti-steering law to protect our right to select the auto body repair shop used in an insurance claim.”

But wait. Before Speier could begin to think about an invitation to Hayashi’s Labor Day BBQ (if she has one), the snipping began:

Unfortunately, AB1200 has been subject to a disinformation campaign led by those who have a vested interest in not allowing insurers to discuss these options with their claimants. These include trial lawyers who sometimes file questionable or frivolous lawsuits related to auto body shop repair.

Additionally, one opposition leader, Richard Steffen, who served as Speier’s chief of staff during her time in the state Legislature, is now employed by and is representing auto body shop organizations that have an interest in maintaining inflated auto repair prices for consumers.

Making not nice with opponents is nothing new for Hayashi. Many will remember the two-term assemblywoman’s flap with state Sen. Ellen Corbett that raised many eyebrows across the East Bay. Hayashi failed to cast a vote in committee that would have approved Corbett’s bill. The bill, since passed, (actually passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week) set off fireworks between the two camps as Hayashi called the bill she co-authored “a work in progress.”

Former Alameda County Fire Chief Bill McCammon who was defeated by Hayashi for the assembly in 2006 also faced her wrath after a round of hard-hitting mailers. Hayashi narrowly defeated McCammon, who won the endorsement of the San Francisco Chronicle, but did not allow the scars of the battle to heal and continued to punish McCammon well after the primaries.

As written in an Citizen editorial two weeks ago, Hayashi’s talking points like to feature the reasonable notion that more information is always to the benefit of consumers, but in this case, all information is not created equal. If Hayashi is asking for the public to believe the word of multi-billion dollar corporations in the era of Madoff, AIG and 11 percent unemployment, she’s not going to get it. She ends her piece with a curious bit of elitism when she notes the Assembly passed her bill 78-0. Are we to infer the best interests of Californians are being sought by Sacramento or rather the insurance lobby has reached everyone in the Assembly?