Posted on May 18, 2016
Recently, the Pennsylvania legislature dealt a win for asbestos victims when a bill based off of American Legislative Exchange Council‘s (ALEC) model legislation was defeated in committee. As written, HB 1428 (FACT), would have created arduous litigation hurdles, significantly delaying relief for victims and their families suffering from asbestos exposure.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the asbestos industry attempted to get the exact same piece of legislation through the legislature in 2014 and failed then as well. This bill was strongly opposed by ADAO along with environmental, veterans, and labor organizations in Pennsylvania, including the Environmental Working Group Action Fund, AFL-CIO, and the Pennsylvania War Veteran Council, which includes the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), the American Legion and Military Order of the Purple Heart.
Further, the toll that asbestos disease has taken on Pennsylvanians is staggering. According to a recent analysis by EWG Action Fund researchers, between 1999 and 2013, asbestos-triggered diseases have claimed the lives of more than 14,200 Pennsylvanians. The Keystone state has one of the uppermost annual mortality rates of asbestos disease in the country with 7.5 out of every 100,000 deaths caused by asbestos – significantly higher than the national average of 4.9. All told, 44 counties in the state have asbestos death rates above the national rate.
So why are lawmakers pushing this legislation making it harder for thousands of Pennsylvanians to hold these asbestos companies accountable? ALEC. ALEC wrote the original Asbestos Claims Transparency Act designed to allow asbestos companies to deny accountability. Roughly 1 in 4 state legislators are members of ALEC and ALEC puts these legislators into the same room as corporate lobbyists from asbestos companies, that know how to “lean to the green.”
The good news is that we have and can continue to beat them. This victory reminds us that, despite what we are up against, we can win fighting off this horrible legislation when legislators hear from real people who have suffered from this terrible plague.
Legislators need to hear from you now more than ever! Help ADAO make your voices heard in Congress and in the state houses around the country! The power of stories is critical when influencing policy, and ADAO uses your stories from the Share Your Story Collection in Senate Briefings, op-eds, statement letters, and in our new Share Your Story Google Fusion Map. If you haven’t already shared how asbestos has impacted your life, please complete the Share Your Story form now!
Pennsylvania had a win this week, but the fight is far from over. Similar legislation is likely being drafted in other state legislatures around the country. Therefore it’s imperative to stay active in the fight against deceitful asbestos corporations.
ADAO sends a HUGE thank you to the many people who called their lawmakers, sent opposition letters, and shared their stories with ADAO.
Thanks to you, asbestos victims WON!