Attorney Fee Legislation Stalled in Senate – Vote Set for Monday

Throughout this week, SB 705 has been stalled on the Senate floor, with a variety of questions and objections delaying its passage. MACo, MML, and individual local governments have raised objections to the costly and unfair nature of the pending bill. On Thursday, the bill — currently on “third reader” and awaiting its final Senate up-or-down vote – was delayed until Monday for its further consideration.

Proponents argue that the bill seeks to expand access to the judicial system for multiple claims, but governmental attorneys have illustrated many scenarios where the bill would simply add costs to existing litigation, reduce the likelihood of reasonable early settlements, and trigger more lawsuits in search of easy payouts. Counties have pointed out numerous ways that SB 705 fails to create a true parallel with federal law – one of the stated goals of the bill’s proponents. Rather, the bill creates an easier avenue to attorney fee recovery, without other balancing elements present in federal litigation.

The effort on the Senate floor is atypical, as a very small share of items that pass from Committee become similarly entangled.

Read MACo’s testimony on SB 705.

For a discussion of the bill’s policy and fiscal effects, read the DLS fiscal note.