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Representative Michael S. Dukakis (D-Brookline), whose auto insurance plan was defeated in the Senate two weeks ago, has not given up his fight to reform Massachusetts' automobile insurance system.
In August the State Legislature surprised everyone by passing the Keeton- O'Connell Basic Protection Plan, co-authored by Robert E. Keeton, professor of Law. Dukakis, who sponsored the bill in the House, worked closely with Keeton to convince legislators to support his bill.
Despite the House's overwhelming approval, the Senate rejected the Keeton-O'Connell plan in favor of an alternative proposed by Governor Volpe.
The Governor's bill, which the House rejected more than a month ago, will new return to the House, but Dukakis s already making plans to have the bill shelved a second time. He said yesterday that he will try to throw out the Governor's bill and substitute Keeton-O'connell.
"There is not a great deal of sentiment in the House for Volpe's bill," Dukakis explained yesterday. But he added that the House is edgy and anxious to have a recess. As a result, Dukakis said, the House may support a modified version of the Governor's bill instead of the more drastic Basic Protection plan.
As the law now stands in Massachusetts, an accident victim can only collect insurance benefits if he can prove that the other driver was negligent, in which case he is paid by the insurance company insuring the other driver. Under Keeton's plan an accident victim receives benefits regardless of which driver is at fault. At present, no state in the country employs the Keeton-O'connell plan.
Dukakis said yesterday that the Sensate vote rejecting the Keeton bill was not "genuine." Republicans voted for the Governor's bill-and not the Keeton bill-because they were "told to." He also suggested that many Democrats supported Volpe's bill because they knew it was unworkable and they anticipated that Volpe would strangle on it.
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