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Rhode Island may be our nation's smallest state, but it played a big role in passing commonsense tort reform legislation in the Senate late yesterday. Both of Rhode Island’s Senators— Sen. Lincoln Chafee and Sen. Jack Reed— voted for S. 5, "The Class Action Reform Act of 2005."
On Thursday, the bill cleared the Senate in a 72-26 bipartisan vote and is expected to pass the House of Representatives as well. The outcome this week reflects a significant shift in support in favor of tort reform and speaks to the effectiveness of an ongoing grassroots campaign by FreedomWorks and allied organizations. In 2003 and 2004, similar legislation passed the House only to be derailed by a Senate filibuster. The successful S. 5 saw a shift of 28 votes in favor of reform compared to the filibuster cloture vote just last summer. In fact, 18 Senators supported S.5 this week despite voting to filibuster a similar bill last year.
FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe commented:
"From Rhode Island to California, the U.S. legal system is clearly in trouble and its costs are rising at double-digit rates. While abusive class action lawsuits target businesses, their cost is passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, and to workers in the form of lost jobs. The Class Action Fairness Act is a modest, bipartisan solution that is a good first step towards bringing justice back to our courts."
"FreedomWorks salutes Senators Chafee and Reed for supporting this important reform bill. Senator Chafee has been a consistent proponent of class action reform, and we are excited that Senator Reed joined the large new majority in favor of reform. No doubt, FreedomWorks’ grassroots education campaign—which reached 4 million targeted citizens during the past election cycle—is making a difference."
"Now it’s time to move on medical malpractice and asbestos litigation reform. FreedomWorks members will be hard at work, educating citizens and pressuring our legislators to end lawsuit abuse in all of its forms."