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Responsible Citizenry: Do we need to pay attention to what elected officials are doing?

Responsible Citizenry: Do we need to pay attention to what elected officials are doing?

March 19, 2012
By Willis, Willis & Rizzi, Personal Injury Attorneys

Last Year Senate Bill 5 seemed to touch a nerve in Ohio and the voting public became aware of public employee labor unions and formed an opinion. The public should become engaged in what our elected officials are doing in Columbus. SB5, however, was only one of hundreds of bills proposed and then passed into law recently. This particular law was repealed by the voting public last November. But what was all the other legislation about? Most people don’t pay attention.

We’re now entering another election cycle and we’re amazed at how much money is spent in order to get someone elected to a job that doesn’t pay anywhere near the amount of money spent to get elected. Who is paying and why are they paying large sums of money to get specific candidates elected?

The simple answer is money comes from campaign donors both large and small. Most donors don’t pay money without expecting something in return. Large campaign donors expect their candidate to protect and advance their own special interests. The problem is those interests often conflict with the needs of the majority or are in fact a detriment to society. The candidates are stuck in a quandary. If they don’t support their big dollar special interest donors, they cannot expect donations for the next election cycle.

We believe that campaign finance has gotten out of control; it is an insidious disease that is bringing down the American political system. At the end of the day we, the voting public, are to blame. As voters we have rewarded expensive, glitzy advertising and catchy sound bites. We need to stop; we need to educate ourselves about the people we’re electing, what they truly stand for and do they have the independence and integrity to say NO to special interests. They accept donations from the wealthy and powerful and we should pay attention.

Laws that protect individuals are being eroded in this state. Ohio has gone from a state with some of the strongest legal protection for insured individuals in the country to one of the weakest. The losers in this equation are individuals, not businesses. For example, Ohio’s uninsured motorist statute was taken off the books by the legislature under pressure from the insurance industry. (Some of the biggest donors) This law was written decades ago to protect law-abiding motorists from uninsured drivers. Why did the legislature take the law off the books? Did everyone who drives suddenly buy insurance? No. There are many uninsured drivers currently on the streets. (One survey says one in five drivers is uninsured.) The real reason is the insurance industry did not want to have to abide by the requirement of the uninsured motorist law which required insurers to cover their insured if they were injured by an uninsured driver, period. Insurers will tell you they still provide uninsured motorist coverage, but effectively while most insurers (previously all by law) still provide some form of uninsured motorist coverage in their policies; it is diminished coverage with numerous exceptions that leaves many un-covered.

Currently, Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practice Act is under attack and legislation is pending (House Bill 275) to reverse current consumer rights and protections. Are laws written about a half a century ago to protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices no longer needed? Are consumers clamoring for this reversal of law? Absolutely not! Auto manufacturers, dealers, homebuilders and contractors and the like are. These laws and others like them are the legal way to obtain justice for citizens who’ve been wronged or injured. If citizens vote for legislators who take away our rights, we will be hard pressed to protect ourselves and our property. Every day the attorneys here at Willis & Willis talk to people who are suddenly faced with catastrophic injuries and/or serious financial problems, through no fault of their own, caused by a business or an individuals conduct. Many of these victims are discovering that their ability to protect themselves or recover from their losses have been eliminated or strictly limited. Please consider in this upcoming legislative election cycle who will responsibly represent your interests and protect your rights as an individual.

Remember citizens do not have to give up fundamental rights to encourage business in this state. Do not be fooled into believing that you do. Many of the laws that are currently under attack have been on the books for decades and existed through some of the strongest economic growth this country has experienced.

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