LANSING – House Democratic Leader Tim Greimel (D-Auburn Hills) denounced four Republican members of the House Insurance Committee who deserted a public hearing Thursday on changes to Michigan’s no-fault auto insurance law just as families of catastrophic auto accident victims prepared to give testimony. Greimel said the Republican legislators showed contempt for citizens — many in wheelchairs — who came to Lansing from across the state on short notice to explain why changing no-fault laws would be bad for Michigan residents, and he said House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) should replace them with legislators willing to fulfill their duties as committee members.

“The Republican members sat through hours of testimony from people representing the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services and other special interest groups,” Greimel said. “But as soon as regular citizens came up to testify, they decided it was time to go. If these legislators can’t remember that they serve the people of Michigan and not its corporations, they don’t belong on the House Insurance Committee.”

The legislators who left the meeting are Reps. Andrea LaFontaine (R-Columbus Township), Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto), Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) and Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton).

The committee was taking testimony on proposed changes to the no-fault insurance law, including instituting a $1 million cap on medical and rehabilitative care. Had they chosen to stay, the Republican legislators would have heard from families who came from across Michigan to testify that $1 million isn’t nearly enough to address the medical care needed by people suffering from traumatic brain injuries, paralysis and amputations. Many of the people giving testimony use wheelchairs, and others needed family members to speak on their behalf because they can no longer communicate on their own.

“These people came to the Capitol to remind legislators that serious car accidents create long-lasting medical needs,” Greimel said. “Republicans are more interested in giveaways to big insurance corporations than helping Michigan citizens who have life-changing injuries. The people who came to the Capitol on Thursday know better than anyone what the proposed changes to no-fault would mean for Michigan residents, but four Republican committee members couldn’t be bothered to listen to them. The citizens who came to the Capitol — in fact, all the citizens of Michigan — deserve better than that.”