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Old 06-17-2008, 09:30 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Making a difference

A high-level tort reform meeting occurred with Texas House leaders. As head of the new Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the property developer had camped out in Austin, pushing here and there for liability reform.
As things turned out, the move to modernize Texas' tort laws _ which have handsomely rewarded the plaintiff bar and which Gov. George W. Bush campaigned against as a candidate did not blow up at the last minute.
The Dick Weekley-Bush side persevered, winning House passage of the four remaining tort pieces.
Just as Ross Perot affected the 1992 elections, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson shapes lives through politics, outsider he has affected this session of the Legislature as much as anyone.
Mr. Weekley enlisted in the tort battle after getting fed up with the threat and reality of liability lawsuits in Texas. Along with several others, he formed Texans for Lawsuit Reform to battle a system they considered hostile.
Now, other people also have played a huge role in the battle for tort reform, a point Mr. Weekley quickly makes. Gov. Bush, for example, has been central. So has Sen. David Sibley, a Waco Republican who chairs the Economic Development Committee. Also factor in Rep. Rob Junell, D-San Angelo, who stood in the well of the House, patiently answering questions about this and that technicality.
But Mr. Weekley's role cannot be underestimated. As Austin political consultant George Christian says, his persistence blew open the door to the safe on tort reform. He created momentum, Mr. Christian says, when momentum was about to run out of the six-year push to change Texas' expansive liability laws.
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